Opening Reception: Saturday, October 9, 8 - 11pm
Merry Karnowsky Gallery is proud to present “Abracadabra,” an exhibition of new paintings by Deedee Cheriel. In her satirical and playful work, animal/human hybrids engage with each other and their environment, a familiar yet surreal world in which bird-headed women riding a fish seems perfectly natural. With influences derived from her diverse background (East Indian temple imagery, folk art, feminist punk rock, mysticism, and the naturalistic environments of her Pacific Northwest childhood), Cheriel’s work explores narratives that recognize the urgency and continuing conflict in our attempts to connect to the world and each other.
Using acrylic paint on wood and paper in a combination of textile-like patterns, delicate lines, haphazard drips, and fragile expressions, the artist transforms personal dramas into a commentary on humanity’s heroic quest for love and connection. In one painting a cult-like group of horse-headed women kneel before a bear-headed shaman who growls sharply in brightly colored patterns resembling native weaving. The horse-women, while cultish and beautiful, can also be seen as vain and unpredictable, as referenced in Chinese, Celtic, and Greco-Roman symbolism.
Cheriel's works are meditations on the tedious dramas of her real-life Los Angeles social circle where boyfriend stealing friends, narcissistic hippies, do-gooders, and intellectuals are anthropomorphized into a surreal world of random theatre. Her paintings are the alchemy that transform pettiness into visual treasures. Referring to the magic of transforming societal ailments into beauty is the source for the title of the show, "Abracadabra," the incantation chosen by magicians and mystics to heal the seemingly incurable. The word was originally used by a Roman physician in the 2nd Century who prescribed disease sufferers to wear an amulet containing the word “Abracadabra” written in the form of a triangle. Combining elements from nature, urban landscapes, history, and pop culture, the paintings delve into the universal human need to find commonalities between ourselves and the world around us.
Influential street artist Shepard Fairey says:
“Cheriel's vibrant, gestural work beautifully juxtaposes humans, plants, and animals, connecting
species figuratively and literally. Her pieces are whimsical, but profound in their ability to shift the
viewer's perspective to value all life equally. Deedee's work demonstrates a powerful tension
between the design elements of stripes, patterns, and color fields, with lyrical illustration. Deedee's
work is idiosyncratic in the most ideal way... it is a reflection of her unique personality.”
Cheriel began her art career creating record covers and T-shirts for the Oregon music scene in the early
'90s. She played in several all-girl bands and co-created the semi-autobiographical film Down and Out with
the Dolls. Her artwork has shown in galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago,
Portland, London, and Melbourne, Australia. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Merry Karnowsky Gallery
170 S. La Brea Ave.
(in the Art 170 Building)
Los Angeles, CA 90036