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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Cheryl Kelley

Cheryl Kelley

Using the automobile as a point of reference, Cheryl Kelley continues her exploration into issues of gender, power, and freedom. Through exquisitely rendered canvases, Chrome displays the luminosity and mystique of the automobile that has captured the imagination of so many since its inception. Juxtaposed to her previous exhibitions of all muscle cars, Kelley's introduction of luxury sports cars like Porsche and Bentley creates a conceptual dialogue of modernity’s influence on design, social trends, technology and taste.

From an artistic perspective, Kelley creates stunning likenesses that reflect the surface of the subject as well as the world around it. Similar to standing in front of a mirror, the viewer simultaneously shifts between the object within and the world around them, between reality and fantasy, as they project themselves into these imaginary landscapes. This conceptual leap, combined with impeccable rendering, transforms the ordinary into extraordinary and the automobile into other.


1992 University on Houston, Houston, Tx. B.A. Fine Art
1987 High School for the performing and Visual Arts, Houston, Tx.

1968 Camaro, 1970 Nova, 1965 Corvette, just the mention of these high performance vehicles bring up the memories of many childhood experiences for me. Born at the end of the sixties, I was fortunate to enter the world during the formative years of the American Feminist movement. However, as I grew into my love of the monster machines, so did my awareness that the muscle car was the last bastion of young male dominance. These big engine cars, seemingly fueled by raw testosterone, were ironically most definitely feminine in form. As a twentieth century American icon, the muscle car is remembered for its speed and power. My paintings are about the feminine sensuality of the surfaces, the Mel Ramos-like perfection of female form. There is a subtlety involved in presenting these images from a female perspective- a mystery that is captured through abstraction. The reflections on the surfaces of the automobiles allow the viewer to go deeper, to see something more than the form.

My work could be called photo - based realism. I work from photographs that I take at car shows and museums. The images are manipulated and become somewhat more real in the painting than their photographic predecessor. I use oil on canvas because I believe it is the most sensual of all mediums and it allows me the freedom to have varying techniques within my work. My brush strokes range from very tight and smoothly blended to very loose and expressive to create an illusion of openness and depth. My surfaces are smooth and a high gloss varnish is used to mimic the surface of a car. These works can appear both photo realistic and gesturally abstract depending on the position of the viewer which seems to me to be a perfect metaphor for the American Dream in all its complexity

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