Cheryl Kelley has come a long way since playing with her Hot Wheels cars as a child in her native Texas, dreaming of the day she would actually be able to drive her much-coveted Corvette. Now all grown up into a renowned painter, she is definitely an artist to watch if you like us, marvel at the beauty of true twentieth century American icons like the 1968 Camaro, the 1970 Nova or the 1965 Corvette.
Since 2003, Kelley has been creating outstandingly photorealistic high-gloss oil paintings of classic muscle cars with such virtuosity that it might take a few, repeated looks to actually realize that they are in fact paintings and not photographs taken at a prestigious car collectors show. With her latest solo exhibition ‘Reflective Presence’ at the Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in New York City – on display until 6 April, 2013 -, she invites us once more to join her on a ride through a world of splendid beauty and eclectic taste, a world where the automobile is more than merely a convenience or a mundane means of transportation.
The exhibition features a selection of brand new paintings of classic muscle cars and cars of the Golden era, painted with oil paint on aluminium panels mounted on plywood. Kelley combines oil paint with a high gloss varnish to mimic the reflective surface of a car, while skilfully using brush strokes that range from very tight and smoothly blended to very loose and expressive in order to create an illusion of openness and depth. Working from photographs that she carefully takes at car shows and museums, she recreates her subjects with complete precision, thereby simulating the illusion of reality. Between the intelligent brush strokes and glossy reflections, the cars depicted strangely manage to appear more real and appealing in her paintings than their photographic predecessors.