David Byrne’s irreverent illustrations muse on life during Covid

Pace Gallery is hosting an exhibition both online and in its New York space showcasing 50 hand-drawn ‘dingbats’ created by musician and artist David Byrne

The exhibition at Pace Gallery features 50 illustrations by musician, artist and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne that reflect his experiences of isolation and mundanity throughout the pandemic – feelings that have taken on a universal significance this year.

Created from isolation in his New York apartment, the hand-drawn works range from metaphorical to literal representations of domestic life during Covid-19, while others speak to the challenges and inequalities that have been exposed by the pandemic.

Top: Podiatrist Punctuation, 2020. Above: T.M.I., 2020. All images © David Byrne, courtesy Pace Gallery

The drawings, or ‘dingbats’ (also the name of the exhibition, which Byrne elaborates on here), were originally created to accompany articles published as part of We Are Not Divided, a six-week project launched by Byrne in September that’s designed to promote unity leading up to the US election. Inspired by the illustrations inserted into otherwise text-heavy stories in publications like the New Yorker, Byrne’s stark line drawings are easy on the eye but filled with surreal intrigue and cryptic meanings, and speak to the absurdity of life in these times.

Ten works will be released each week until November 2, and will be displayed at Pace Gallery’s New York space as well as in an online format. All proceeds from sales will go to the Arbutus Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by Byrne that’s dedicated to inspirational, uplifting projects. The first of these came in the form of online magazine Reasons to be Cheerful, which launched last year as an editorial platform offering inspiration and solutions that respond to “world’s most pressing problems”. The Pace exhibition coincides with the release of American Utopia, the filmic version of Byrne’s hit Broadway show directed by Spike Lee.

A Balanced Life, 2020
Nature Man, 2020
Cartesian Duality Ended, 2020
Movin’ On Up, 2020
David Byrne illustrations at Pace Gallery
Four Way Boat, 2020
David Byrne illustrations
Face River Flow 2, 2020
David Byrne illustrations at Pace Gallery
Supply Chain, 2020

Dingbats runs online and at Pace Gallery in New York until November 2; pacegallery.com