Illusions of absurdity
“You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
Morpheus. "Matrix"

Everything created in the XX century, appeared absurd from the viewpoint of previous generations. Absurdity, magnified and established into the ranks of art, became an inseparable part of our lives. You would be mistaken if you think Cheval sells his paintings. He does not sell anything, but the effect is such that seeing his work makes you stop, stunned as if the powerful gust of wind temporarily restricted your ability to breathe, hear or move. You stand before the painting and realize that you already saw everything presented on the canvas… you remember it from some far away and forgotten childhood dream. Just like we try to recall a forgotten dream, a sense of sweet torment impels us to return here, into the gallery and buy Cheval’s paintings, in order to spend day after day at home, journeying into our dreams… into our forgotten childhood dreams… and remembering how warm and comfortable it felt there.

Who is he, Michael Cheval? A Minotaur, pretending to be a horse? Or a child, ignorant of his own doings?

Close the book. Just close it… and do not turn back.
R U N …
Or it will be too late and you will start to think.

Cheval regards art as a kind of shamanism. It is a very sacred performance when a painter takes off his skin and bares his nerves. Often he does not realize himself how far his unconsciousness wandered ahead from everything that we know and understand.

Looking back – throughout the entire essay, we discussed the basic principles for interpreting reality.

Art, that always rebelled against the scientific view of the world, in our new century learned to ensnare us into its transcendental dimensions, breaking the subjective visualization of reality.

Art – is always an illusion, a vision, a reflection of the impossible, even the absurd. Only art is capable of portraying the ideal and the absurd, equally sensed but never tangible in reality.

Illusion – is a secret weapon art uses to make visible that which can only exist in a parallel dimension and only in the presence of special physical factors.

Cheval’s paintings are the maps of his journeys into a different, transcendental world, into his personal maze where he chooses the path and the length of his voyage. A maze in which he is both a Minotaur and Theseus… a victim and a hero. A destructor and a creator.

To deviate a little before sounding the final cords, I would like to quote the words Cheval used to conclude one of our discussions: “I cannot stand it when a person that I meet for the second time in my life, puts his hand on my shoulder and tells me: “How keenly I understand you.” How is he able to do that? I have struggled with this mystery for almost forty years and still cannot fully understand myself.” Looking at Cheval’s paintings it is impossible not to feel how alive and flowing they are. They leave you regretting that you made it only to anagnorisis1 and did not see the performance from the beginning to the end. Alarming spaciousness is always present in his works and as you approach the canvas, immediately the irreversible chain of events, like a chemical process, occurs, leading to collapse and rebirth – a process that repeats as many times as you come near the painting.
Such metamorphoses…

Marc Gauchax

September, 2006

1 A critical moment, a final scene in a work of drama

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