Deedee Cheriel, who we haven’t heard from since we covered her show at Merry Karnowski Gallery in February, recently created a new series of paintings for the “Unnatural Natural History” group show at the Royal West of England Academy. Inspired by a blend of Eastern and Western cultural influences — specifically underground subcultures in the Pacific North West and East Indian temple imagery — Deedee’s paintings recall snapshots of epic legends. But her cast of fantastical, anthropomorphized animal characters also illustrate personal conflicts the artist has faced.
“Living with a sick boyfriend, trying to connect with girlfriends of different racial and social standings, trying to overcome difficult life situations become anthropomorphic characters in my paintings. I use animals and elements from my natural environments to depict human emotions,” Wrote Cheriel in an email about her latest works. “When I quit smoking I poured my frustrations into painting a million very hungry bears ‘Lord of Desire’ which represented the Buddhist idea of to desire is to suffer became an ongoing theme through my paintings through the last few years. These stories and images are indications of how we try to connect ourselves to others and how these heroic efforts are episodes of compassion and discomfort.”