Peninsula is pleased to present yrearnings, a solo exhibition by painter Cheryl Donegan. The show features her most recent series of paintings, which were inspired by an out-of-print book of Sonia Delaunay's gouache studies for fabric patterns at a library. Unable to keep or purchase the book, she instead photographed images of the designs. Back in her studio, she tried to copy Delaunay’s compositional patterns studies, now on her iPhone, by using a series of homemade stencils and commercial remnants such as craft sticks and foam packing forms. She found that Delaunay’s designs were now altered through the process of becoming digital images, leading her to make paintings based on “systems of accidents.”
Each painting started with a task: trace a stencil and copy a pattern. Each stencil was based on images of digital detritus, including electronic static, pixelation, digital artifacts, and basic icons. These devices were used to make motifs and forms that modified the marks within her paintings while surrendering control. She was able to work directly on a surface, removed yet simultaneously blind to the process while still shaping it. Her aim was to create direct paintings through indirect means. However, the process also inevitably caused imperfections and deviations in the patterns, becoming something less automated and more vulnerable.
Donegan also takes inspiration from the surprising fact that the most sought-after skill at digital SFX and computer-animation companies like Pixar is the digital rendering of moving cloth; arabesque designs composed of ones and zeroes. Rigid binary systems are used to create the illusion of movement and undulation. Donegan also looks towards picture-making toys of her childhood, consisting of products like spirographs, etch-a-sketches, colorforms, and lite-brites; toys of the imagination with built-in constraints. None were electronic, but all used narrow parameters, limiting the types of pictures that one could create. These obstructions– limits and edges – generate the space for play. Means and masks which open a space for painting. Donegan utilizes these systems of creation and their underlying concepts to make paintings that tow the line between organic and mechanical, natural and artificial.
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