Friday, December 29, 2006Home

Exhibition: Gonzo by Hunter S. Thompson

At the venerable age of 24, Hunter S. Thomson penned his first novel, The Rum Diary, but it wouldn’t be released until 1998, well after his name had been made with the novels Hell’s Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. With a big-screen adaptation now in production, and Johnny Depp (once again) in the starring role, The Rum Diary is a semi-autobiographical account of Thompson’s alcohol-fueled misadventures in Puerto Rico. It’s a strange and often disturbing story, one that has, until now, only been told through writing. I never expected to see archived photographs of his experiences, yet this is exactly what is being presented at M+B Gallery in Los Angeles.

Thompson’s prose is always enticing for the mind’s eye, despite the fact that he gives little space to the actual description of a place. We often get a sense of “place” through the interactions and struggles of his characters. It's not very often that one gets to see through such a writer's eyes, especially via photography. Thompson took many photographs during his lifetime, and they have been made a available for public viewing for the first time, having been released from the author's estate. The exhibition, titled "Hunter S. Thompson: Gonzo," will run until January 20, 2007. You can view M+B’s preview gallery here.

Puerto Rico is only one of the locales that are represented here—there are many photographs documenting Thompson’s other famous experiences, including his “Self Portrait, After Beating by Hell's Angels.” The name “Gonzo” is a reference to the unique style that Thompson created, one that melds journalism with fiction and blurs the line between the real and the unreal. These photographs give some additional clues to the reality that inspired Thompson, and perhaps some insight into the warped mind that gave rise to a style so aped by college students worldwide.

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