At the opening reception last winter, a visitor, full of apprehensive reverence and earnest perplexity, approached Cheval to ask him: “How were you able to see my dream?”
How does he do it? How can Cheval see YOUR dreams? From culturological perspective, Cheval is aesthetically autogamous . This is the source of his strength. Instead of relying on cultural sources, he explores deep motives of unconsciousness that are easily understood because they are universal, regardless of one’s geography, experience or knowledge. His paintings lead their independent life. Outside of time and space, this artist spends too much time communicating with specters.
Cheval’s paintings are often similar to photographs, but the familiar is inevitably invaded by the unreal: unfeasible spheres, floating under the arches of gothic cathedrals, a violin sliding down the pipes, countless masks, continually changing and leaving their characters for different roles and perhaps for different producers found among the audience. His paintings present a frightening difficulty of separating his images into “reality” and “illusion”, since everything coexists in parallel and obeys strict laws of his ontological vision.
A curious literary genre was borne in a number of countries during different periods: the travels of a deceased character through the otherworldly realms. Tibetan “Bardo Todol” and “The Egyptian Book of the Dead” are the two examples. Both texts describe the tribunal of the Gods and the weighting of good deeds against the sins. The heart and the feather are placed on the scales in “The Book of the Dead”. Black and white stones are balanced in “Bardo Todol”. Egyptians have a Devourer of Shadows, Babai, that consumes a spirit if it dares to lie in its afterlife world of shadows.
At this art show, you have the role of Babai while Cheval, working privately with his paintings served as the highest court. He emptied the bodies and left them vacant, the way they are in their essence. The artist ironically comments that in his works, he used the image of skin that belongs to a popular singer who undressed to his bones in a musical video. Exhibitionism of the soul would be achieved if one took off one’s skin and muscles while performing a striptease dance.
The irrational and the mysterious that surrounds us is expressed simply and clearly in Cheval’s paintings, while they continue to follow the principles of figurative art. Intricately detailed unreal objects contrast with their unnatural surroundings. Paintings are stretched like strings from a famous Buddhist legend where a wise musician advises his pupils that if the string is overstretched, it can snap and if it is not stretched enough, it will play out of tune… only when the string is stretched out precisely right, will it produce a clear beautiful sound.
1 “Don’t know. Have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.