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Chrissie Hynde: Paintings


  • Archive Exhibitions, Exhibition

  • On view June 27, 2019 - September 22, 2019

I always thought I would get into painting, but I got waylaid by rock ‘n’ roll. Finally, I thought, ‘Now’s the time.’ As soon as I could be alone and paint without any interruptions, I just couldn’t stop.”

– Chrissie Hynde

In the past five years, Chrissie Hynde has rekindled a love of painting that predates her passion for music. With bold lines, fluid brushstrokes, and a distinctive palette, Hynde’s work ricochets between portraiture, still life, landscape, and abstraction. MASS MoCA will exhibit a selection of her works in conjunction with a performance by The Pretenders at the museum on Friday, July 26 (the only show scheduled by the band in the U.S. this year), and a public conversation between Hynde and MASS MoCA Director Joseph Thompson on Saturday, July 27, at 2pm.

The installation and performance mark the publication of a new catalogue devoted to Hynde’s paintings, titled Adding the Blue. With essays by Brian Eno and Tim Marlow, and an original text by Hynde, the publication brings new perspective on the life and art of one of her generation’s greatest rockers. Marlow, Artistic Director of London’s Royal Academy of Arts, writes, “The fact that she’s a great musician doesn’t undermine her painting; it underpins it… I love the fact that in her studio, below the pots filled with brushes and under the table filled with tubes of paint, is a basket full of plectrums. Tools of her trades, old and new.”

For her own part, Hynde is not precious about her paintings: “I’m not really into art. I just like drawing and making stuff.” For someone who is “not really into art,” however, Hynde is prolific, having painted hundreds of canvases since 2015. Adding the Blue collects just under 200 of these paintings, narrated throughout by Hynde.

Hynde sees her approach to painting as analogous to her years of making music as the lead singer of The Pretenders; she is not a trained painter, “but I’m totally untrained as a musician too.” Her practices in painting and music make for a particularly apt fit at MASS MoCA, which is dedicated to presenting exciting new work by contemporary visual and performing artists. Considering the history of modern painting, Hynde reflects, “Those guys in Montmartre, Picasso and all those, they really were hanging out. That’s because they didn’t have rock’n’roll. I reckon that if you put them in the sixties they’d have all been in bands.”

Chrissie Hynde
Sunday Self, December 2018