"I've never done anything as ambitious as this," singer Dave Matthews says of his artwork being exhibited in a New York gallery.

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Dave Matthews says he was nervous about displaying his art in a New York exhibit

More than 20 of silk-screens by Matthews and Beezy Bailey are at a Hell's Kitchen gallery

The exhibit might open the floodgates to more art shows, the singer says

CNN  — 

He’s a Grammy-winning musician, with a band that’s brought in hundreds of millions of dollars from touring, and to cap it off, his latest release, “Away From the World,” just topped the Billboard album charts.

But Dave Matthews was still frightened when it came to showing his art in a professional New York exhibit.

“I’ve always drawn and painted, but as my own thing,” the musician said. “I’ve never done anything as ambitious as this.”

The result of the singer’s ambition is “Itica Pritica” (the “C” sounds like a “K”), an exhibition of more than 20 silk-screened works by Matthews and close friend Beezy Bailey at the Robert Miller Gallery in Chelsea.

“I’m very afraid of things like this,” Matthews said. “For years, Beezy has said, ‘Come on, let’s do something together.’ ”

A fellow South African, Bailey knew just what to say to get Matthews over his fears and into the gallery.

” ‘No one’s ever died making a painting,’ I told him,” recalled Bailey, an artist with more than 30 years’ experience.

The paintings, on display until April 13, may have taken only two weeks to complete, but they reveal some of the singer’s personal feelings to the world, according to Matthews. He says his favorite piece, covered with meticulous etchings, displays his compulsive side while other works show his hatred for the poaching of the African rhino.

The art is not all serious. Like classic Matthews lyrics, there are works celebrating the idea of “Eat, drink and be merry.” The “fat man,” an alter ego for Bailey, appears as an explorer in many of the pieces.

“I just can’t get enough of him. I can’t. When we did anything, I’d say, ‘Let’s put the fat man on it,’ ” Matthews said. “I won’t apologize for the fat man. I won’t apologize for the fact that we used him so much. He’s glorious.”

Matthews said getting over this first artistic hump might open the floodgates for more art shows.

“Of the points in my life that I’ll look back on as monumental to me, this will definitely be one,” he said.

The famous singer might be OK with his mug all over TV and film, but he apparently is a bit apprehensive when it comes to his face on his art. One piece has his face plastered more than 20 times throughout. The work sIts sequestered in the back, and Matthews joked about it coming to an untimely end.

“I hate it,” he said. “If there’s a fire in the building, leave that s**t in!”