Scott Lobaido created the Forever 27 poster after the death of Kurt Cobain as a tribute to 4 artists who are members of the 27 club. The piece is a puzzle of sorts – kind of like the i-spy books. The basic style of the painting is a mash-up of Salvador Dali, the famous surrealistic painter, and M.C. Escher. This is the first clue – that all is not what it appears to be, up here floating above the real world. A room that is only partially complete hangs in a beautiful blue sky, while in the background there are white mountaintops poking their heads through a layer of clouds.
In the open room are Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, both seated at what looks like a coffee shop counter, Janis Joplin leaning against what looks like a big brass windowsill, and Kurt Cobain stands just inside the arched entrance to the room- he is the new arrival. He looks sad, out of place and reluctant to be here with what he considered the old guard of classic rock.
There is a large clock that is hanging out from the side wall of the room, melting and dripping onto the floor – this is a direct borrowing from Dali, whose melting clock image is well-known. It might represent the unreality of time, or the end of time, or the flexibility of time, or all of these and more.
On the floor under the clock is a puddle of liquid time, from which a long-stemmed rose has grown and then fallen over. The movie “The Rose” starring Bette Midler was loosely based on Janis Joplin’s life. On the floor near Janis’ feet is a grill from a Mercedes – of course Mercedes Benz is one of her signature songs. A chain is pegged to the floor with a long spike and from the chain through a jagged hole there hangs a large iron ball – another of her famous songs was Ball and Chain.
Hendrix is relaxed, gazing over at Cobain. Many of his songs described heaven and a place over yonder, and he looks like he feels right at home. The waterfall flowing out of the side of the counter references his song Waterfall, and the dragonfly in the foreground is from his song Spanish Castle Magic (which clearly states that the castle is not in Spain). The cherubs are like angels with guitars, and a well-known Hendrix song is Angel, in addition to the angelic song Little Wing.
Morrison is reading – a reference to his literary ambitions and love of poetry. The Doors’ song Break On Through (To the Other Side) seems to be almost the setting for the whole painting, and the lizard in the boot refers to his calling himself the Lizard King. Suspended under the ball in mid-air is a butterfly – which appears in the song When the Music’s Over. Morrison seemed obsessed with death and wrote many songs about the topic and others alluding to it.
A heart-shaped box on the counter is from Cobain’s Nirvana song of the same name. Kurt has passed through a broken doorway that seems to be floating in pieces, and there are 2 hands at the top of the arch, almost in a prayerful position. The expected movement in the picture is for Kurt to claim the box on the counter, but then he would be joining the others, something he doesn’t really want to do.
There are other objects in the painting that remain unexplained, there for the spy to discover the meaning of. There is an ice-cream sundae in a tall soda-fountain glass on a pedestal that has come up through the counter top. There is a dove flying just outside the window, and other mysteries scattered here and there.
Each person in the painting is dressed as they were commonly seen in real life, and their features are done in a realistic manner – unlike the rest of the scene. The overall effect is to give a sense of another world, one which we are given a moment and a perspective to look into and gleen what we can from. It is an interesting work of art and a great item for any fan of the forever 27 club.
Much more remains to be seen and understood – and I am certainly not an expert on all things where this Scott Lobaido poster is concerned. Please share your interpretations and other items you’ve discovered in our comments!
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