Wayne Coyne’s psychedelic surrealism has taken many forms over the years. King’s Mouth, one of his most dazzling creations
As frontman of the wildly adventurous rock band The Flaming Lips, Coyne has penned classic songs such as “Do You Realize” and “She Don’t Use Jelly” and transformed Lips concerts into elaborate, visually stunning, communal spectacles. He’s created enduring album cover art, drawn comic books, released new music on flash drives embedded in gummy skulls, directed a science fiction Christmas film, and opened a funhouse-style arts venue (The Womb) in his hometown of Oklahoma City. In 2015, Coyne made his exhibition debut at Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), where King’s Mouth proved to be one of the most popular attractions in the museum’s history.
A surreal and immersive installation, King’s Mouth is an enormous metallic head beckoning visitors to crawl inside its foam mouth, kick back, and experience a cascading LED lightshow synchronized to exclusive Flaming Lips music. Baltimore magazine named King’s Mouth one of the year’s best artworks, likening it to a cross between “a bean bag, the iconic Rolling Stones tongue, and an acid trip.”
To go with it, Coyne concocted a fantastic creation myth that he illustrated with a series of drawings and multi-media collages. These pieces—done in hotel rooms after shows, between takes in recording studios, and at the kitchen table at home—combine original drawings with images clipped from magazines, glitter glue and stickers from Wal-Mart, and cut-up pieces of Flaming Lips record sleeves. Like much of Coyne’s music, they reflect a deeply rooted, punk rock sensibility infused with trippy transcendence and pulsing humanity.