Deedee Cheriel: Episodes in the Abundant Oasis

The LA-based artist paints modern fables with dream-like animal figures

by Mya Stark


Gods, monsters or something more enigmatically human, the animal-headed figures of artist Deedee Cheriel are set to grace LA’s Merry Karnowsky Gallery this weekend. In the new show, called “Episodes in the Abundant Oasis,” Cheriel’s paintings will share the space with work by Mel Kadel and Femke Hiemstra.


In a style reminiscent of rough-hewn outsider or folk art, Cheriel’s work weaves narratives that are near-recognizable enough to resonate, yet mysterious enough to tantalize. In Cheriel’s surreal world, bears roar bright colors, trees read books and bird-women ride winged horses into the sky.


Cheriel’s fascination with these liminal figures dates back to early memories of visiting family in India. Inside the inner-sanctum of a temple, she saw carvings painted in bright colors of various flora and fauna engaged in making love—a sacred metaphor for the interconnectedness of nature.


A past as a Portland punk-rocker led Cheriel to making poster and cover art for bands, and from there to painting and then to Los Angeles. Noted for a 2010 wheat-paste covering Los Angeles with an ursine figure and the boldface message “YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED,” her work has shown nationwide and as far away as London, Melbourne, Beijing and Tokyo.


The title of her current show refers to viewing the world from a place of abundance rather than a place of lack. To Cheriel, her use of animals functions as a metaphor, each animal representing a trait—as in traditional fables. While fables come ready-made with a moral, Cheriel’s work invites a deeper form of interpretation, perhaps best carried out in dreams.

“Episodes in the Abundant Oasis” opens at Merry Karnowsky Gallery on 22 June and runs through 20 July 2013.

Images courtesy of Deedee Cheriel