In 1977, fresh from my youthful enthusiasm for Star Wars and other movie thrills, I stumbled unwittingly into the antithesis of those generation defining heroics with a film that troubled me then, as it troubles me now. I was 12. The director was David Lynch. The film was Eraserhead.

Nearly 40 years later, Eraserhead is back, as one small but enigmatic part of a stunning new exhibition, ‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds’, the first exhibition of Lynch’s work to be staged in Australia.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said, “‘Between Two Worlds’ explores David Lynch’s as an artist and filmmaker, spanning painting, photography, printmaking, industrial design, music and moving image. Featuring over 200 works across all media, the exhibition is sure to surprise Australian audiences not familiar with Lynch’s broader artist practice”. For Lynch, “The world we live in is a world of opposites. And to reconcile those two things is the trick.”

Three ideas underpin the arrangement of works across seven galleries: Man and Machine points to Lynch’s enduring fascination in the sites and by-products of industry with factories, machinery, mechanical actions and their sounds featuring prominently.  The extra-ordinary reflects Lynch’s ability to uncover moments of beauty and horror in everyday objects, process and experiences; and, Psychic aches draws on Lynch’s fascination with unconscious drives and desires, and his manipulation of imagery to express inner conflict and a dreaming consciousness.

David Lynch (b.1946) is from Missoula, Montana. He trained at the Corcoran School of Art, Washington and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, before enrolling at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This is where he experimented with an expanded field of painting and sculptures and developed an interest in cinema. Relocating to Los Angeles he studied film making at the American Film Institute Conservatory and developed his debut feature Eraserhead, regarded by Lynch as his ‘most spiritual movie’. He developed a singular cinematic style with ground breaking films including The Elephant Man (1980), Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990) and Mulholland Drive (2001), as well as the celebrated television series Twin Peaks (1990-91) created with Mark Frost. Lynch and Frost are currently developing a new season of Twin Peaks that will screen in 2016.

QAGOMA Senior Curator José Da Silva said, “This is an exhibition about the transcendent power of the imagination and about an artist who loves a mystery, particularly one that leaves room to dream.”

The exhibition also includes film screenings at the gallery’s Australian Cinémathèque, including Lynch’s 10 feature films and nine programs of shorts and experimental works, alongside selected documentaries and works for television.

Held on the final three Fridays of the exhibition, ‘Lynch by Night’ gives visitors after-hours access, with talks, tours, dining, bars and an ambient backdrop of sounds from Australian performers.

‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds’ is exclusive to GOMA and runs until 7 June. Tickets to the exhibition, film screenings and ‘Lynch by Night’ are on sale now. For more information please visit www.gagoma.qld.gov.au.

Words by Colin Bushell