Kurt Cobain’s paintings, while not yet as well-known as his music, provide insight into the artist’s experience and present an important art historical narrative that together with his music legacy, tells a gritty story of youth culture in the 1990s, A series of paintings that have been in storage since the Nirvana frontman’s death in 1994 have gone on show in his hometown, Seattle at the Seattle Art Fair.
Although most notable for his lyrics, UTA Artist Space (United Talent Agency) – which is hosting the works until 6 August at the Seattle Art Fair – explain that Cobain honed an interest in art over his lifetime, beginning during high school, adding that parallels can be drawn between the dark and humourous nature of his music and his paintings.
Working across various mediums including painting, drawing, and collage, Cobain’s works point to his “creative energy and wit” but also “to his efforts to articulate his struggles”, such as depression, self-image, and heroin addiction. One, “Incesticide”, graced the cover of a 1992 album of the same name. (He also devised the artwork for 1993’s In Utero.)
Josh Roth, Head of UTA Fine Arts, added: “Kurt Cobain was perhaps the most iconic musician of his generation, but his work as a visual artist is often overlooked. These paintings provide an opportunity to see him, and some of his contemporaries, in a new light.”