Over the last decade, Cheryl Donegan has made paintings that are as irreverent and subversive as her widely acclaimed political, feminist approaches to video. Similar in content to the performative work she created in the 1990s—which, today is included among the standards of art history textbooks—her painterly practice is infused with an ironic eroticism, often time-based, and pointedly references the male-dominated history of Abstract Expressionism and action painting. Donegan’s newest highly conceptual painted and printed works continue her investigations into mark-making, beauty, seduction, fashion, and the nature of art-making.
Magnifying her process, Donegan’s abstract paintings highlight the studio as a space for discovery and experimentation as well as its relationship to the vivid streets of New York City. Her recent paintings—gleaned from debased images of consumer objects, shopping spaces, and humble patterns—employ digital appropriation and reveal her playful, yet deceivingly serious manner. For instance, Donegan has taken cell phone snapshots of the ubiquitous graffiti made by teens that have scratched their tags into the collapsible grills of air-conditioner units. The resulting motif, both cosmic and quotidian, forms the basis of a new collection of garments, which will be on display in the Galleries. These images, when printed on fabric and animated by models, bring out both the street beauty and art-historical resonances of this mark-making practice.
The exhibition is organized jointly by CAMH and the Aspen Art Museum, and is accompanied by the first comprehensive catalogue on Donegan’s practice to date.