MISSONI AND CHERYL DONEGAN PRESENT “MODEL! PLEASURE! ARTIST! ALIVE!”
by KRISTOPHER FRASER
COURTESY of C&M MEDIA
Cheryl Donegan, artist and pioneer of post-digital aesthetics, has gotten very fashionable for Missoni. In collaboration with Missoni creative director Angela Missoni, the two have presented Model! Pleasure! Artist! Alive!, a personal exhibit of Donegan’s work curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi. Organized in collaboration with Apalazzo Gallery, the exhibit opened on October 25 as part of the Missoni’s ongoing Surface Conversion project, the artistic platform that makes use of the spaces and floor areas of the Missoni boutique on Madison Avenue in New York.
“Cheryl might be known as a painter, but you don’t see a framed painting in this space,” Ragazzi said. “You see the screening upstairs. You see the installations with mannequins, objects, and masks, and you can enter this process which is a mix of life, places and luxury.”
“You’re looking at aspects of my paintings without necessarily an actual painting being here,” Donegan said. “I think what connects the two projects long term, one being the Missoni family business of knits, and my project, which is print on demand digital technology, is the optimism of both approaches. Mine is taking advantage of consumer technologies that are available to anybody with making print on demand fabrics contrasting to a really old family house that have the same signature that’s been so recognizable for so many years. It felt like the two really connected really well, which was not surprising.”
Model! Pleasure! Artist! Alive! builds upon a cycle of events, that started with Jonas Mekas' personal exhibition last year, dedicated to the dynamism of New York's arts scene as seen from the perspective of different generations. The shop areas burst with this vitality, creating new forms of dialogue between arts, fashion and reality.
Donegan was inspired by the old Newport Lights campaign “Alive With Pleasure” (although she doesn’t condone smoking herself), but loved the color and sexuality involved with the advertisements. Her own womanhood plays a big part in her work, as she is part of the canon of the feminist art movement with videos such as Gag, Kiss My Royal Irish Ass and Head — shown at the Venice Biennale in 1993. Donegan uses a number of do-it-yourself, analog and non-analog techniques to turn objects and symbols of metropolitan life into abstract art. Her works have been exhibited at major international stages such as the Whitney Biennial, MoMA, New Museum, Tang Museum of Art, and Biennale d'Art Contemporain de Lyon.
Cheryl Donegan for Missoni Surface Conversion
“Cheryl Donegan and I were meant to be. We are both on a mission to free color and shapes from constrictions.”
— Angela Missoni —
Missoni Madison Avenue Boutique
“Everything I do comes out of my experience in the world as a woman,” Donegan said. “Whether that’s as a woman with children, a woman who loves clothes, a woman who grew up learning to sew. All of that is in the DNA of my work and reflects the different experiences I’ve had in life.”
For Missoni, Cheryl Donegan took inspiration from the colors, forms and patterns of minor urban landscapes and reconstructed them into an irresistible psychedelia made of acid tones. Air conditioner grids ruthlessly painted with graffiti, beauty shop windows in Harlem, vandalized cars, and the shattered glass of old PC monitors together with toy computer graphics, all became personal visual obsessions that were transformed into charming abstract paintings. This is the process that is taking place in the Madison Avenue boutique on fifteen lightboxes, marked by real and virtual signs that become blurred in the already fluid horizon of our lives.
The same mixture of production strategies stands at the origin of the monumental installation on the shop windows overlooking the Madison Avenue. Six long fabric rolls of the Banners series (2015 - ongoing) have been unreeled from the ceiling to the floor, revealing fragmented lines and zones of color. Through an update of the surrealistic techniques used in automatic painting, the huge ribbons are produced by the artist by forcing the parameters of an online press service. The geometries printed on the fabrics are created through the scanning of market tracksuits or variations of the gingham, the checkered fabric that is typically used on tablecloths, garments and other haberdashery products.
“Cheryl Donegan and I were meant to be,” Angela Missoni said. “We are both on a mission to free color and shapes from constrictions. She’s doing work that I feel very close to. Both fashion and art an expression of the moment at the time.”
Her favorite thing about the Surface Conversion series is the chance to come to New York and connect with Missoni fans. “It’s an extra occasion to come to New York, come to the store, and meet people who are curious about the label. I hope to meet people with the same passion for fashion and art that I have,” she said.
The Missoni boutique continues to be a creative stage.
Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, Angela Missoni, Ottavio Missoni, Rosita Missoni, and Cheryl Donegan