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Tim Burton dark shadows cast light on his art exhibition

by Pierce King. Published Wed 07 Mar 2012 16:41, last updated: 19/05/12

Hollywood's most eccentric storyteller Tim Burton is inviting fans to peer inside the darkest corners his macabre mind with an art exhibition.

The Edward Scissorhands creator is displaying 500 sketches that formed the starting point for all his films, as part of a show in Paris.

Gothic doodles of the characters that live in his cult universe appear alongside photos, props and film clips.

Some works date back to his misfit childhood in Burbank, a bland Los Angeles suburb.

Curator Ronald Magliozzi was allowed to rifle through Burton's accumulated possessions and had initially planned a career retrospective.

But after discovering a wealth of artwork and sketches nobody knew existed, they realised they had enough to form a standalone exhibition.

He said: "We discovered he had these vast archives. His parents had saved every last drawing he had ever done.

"We soon realised this would be an exhibit of Tim Burton's art - art that we didn't even know existed."

Gems include Burton's earliest animated film, made in 1974 and unearthed by a former art teacher: a 33-second long, gory attack by a pair of pliers on a green plasticine monster.

Burton's world is always shot through with humour. He said: 'I never try to make it just dark. I'm always drawn to material that's both funny and sad, light and dark.'

Paired with witty little poems, his sketches come under headings like Childhood, full of bandaged little mummies, or Couples, one of them of a man and woman tucking gorily into eachother's shins.

'Drawing keeps your hands busy. And it keeps depression at bay,' said Burton, who doodles constantly, including on restaurant napkins - with dozens from the Paris Ritz lined up on display.

'Fairy tales are basically horror stories. They have always been a way for kids - in a symbolic way - to start to understand the world. My three-year-old watched 'Alice in Wonderland' and loved the scary parts!'

Today, Burton gives thanks for crossing the path of inspiring art teachers, 'ones who just said 'Draw what you feel, draw what you can.'

'That changed my life,' he said. Later on, working as an animator at Disney - during a period when he now reckons he was suffering from depression - Burton would hide in closets to nap during the day.

But he also remembers the early 1980s, as 'a fertile period': 'They sort of locked me in a room and let me draw whatever I wanted.'

'Tim Burton' runs at the French Cinematheque until August 5, its final stop, after stints in Los Angeles, Melbourne and Toronto.


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