Caitlin Cherry “Womanizer” @ The Hole, Los Angeles

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The Hole is excited to present Womanizer, a solo exhibition by Caitlin Cherry, the artist’s second with the gallery. Through painting, sculpture and installation, Caitlin Cherry creates a personal archive of Black popular culture on the internet through centering femme entertainers as her muses. Composed of celebrities from online image banks like Getty Images as well as sex workers, drag queens and social media influencers these eight paintings depict popular radical aesthetics within the global Black diaspora. Through a simulated moiré pattern system, Cherry is able to recreate the phenomena of the viewing Black women through a computer screen in order to express how contemporary Black femininity is co-produced by technology.

In Womanizer, two panoramic installations reminiscent of zoetropes—pre-film animation devices—wrap her eight oil paintings around the viewer. Entering each freestanding aluminum circle you are surrounded by scores of painted vignettes raised slightly higher than eye-level, beaming down on you as from a billboard. Frequently coming off the wall with mechanical arms or freestanding frames, Cherry here takes her paintings full surround sound, creating a dizzying and seductive assortment—with a hint of peep show privacy—in a sculptural, multi-sensory manipulation of the representation of women that inspired the title.

Cherry’s practice negotiates between algorithmic selection, direct digital mediation and the intervention of the human hand. Inspired by the solarization of a glitching LCD screen, Cherry’s oil paintings utilize a kaleidoscopic palette, painting her muses in striking color. These figures, compiled and overlaid with a density of information in each composition, represent pixels organizing themselves into a jpeg. From Shea Coulée to Doja Cat, Cherry’s muses share and fill the canvas but rarely interact, each retaining their status as lead protagonist. These new paintings debuted this summer at Cherry’s solo exhibition, The Regolith Was Boiling at The Wattis Institute in San Francisco curated by Anthony Huberman. The exhibition embedded this swirling sea of celebrities in a giant POV sticker disrupting the architecture of the museum.

The Black femininity presented in Womanizer is open to expansive ideas of gender which have been historically difficult to access for Black American women who are often excluded from traditional constructions of femininity. Cherry’s practice deploys “queer phenomenology”, a concept coined by Sara Ahmed in the 2006 book of same name, which examines how queer sexual orientation helps us describe bodies’ relationship to objects in space. Through sculpture and installation, Cherry queers the viewer’s orientation to painting through a creation of painted and physical obstructions, layers, and environmental strategies of moving the audience through space in unexpected ways.

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