Video has been central to Cheryl Donegan's art since the early 1990s, when she burst onto the scene as part of a generation of artists, many of whom are women, developing a new conceptual art practice. Across media, Donegan's works from the last two decades are unified by a sustained interrogation of surfaces—the surface of a canvas, a screen, fabric, disposable plastic and the artist's own body. Donegan's work integrates the time-based, gestural forms of performance and video with forms such as painting, drawing and installation. Donegan's works draw from a panoply of pop cultural and art historical references, from Jean-Luc Godard to the Beach Boys, from Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons to Barnett Newman's "zips" and Pollock's splatter paintings.
In a series of audacious, lo-fi videos produced in the 1990s, Donegan created brash exercises in masquerade, role-playing and exposure. Using her own body as metaphor, she executed performative actions before the camera; these performances often resulted in or related to process paintings and drawings. Direct, irreverent, and infused with an ironic eroticism, these video works put a subversive spin on issues relating to sex, gender, art-making and art history, exorcising confining clichés and sexist archetypes by purging them through performance.
In her most recent works, contemporary fashion is Donegan's touchstone, as she engages in an expanded dialogue with the designers, fabrics, and ideas in which we continually resurface our bodies. Taking these loaded and functional second skins as inspiration, Donegan is in the process of reconnecting with earlier concerns from a new direction.
Cheryl Donegan was born in 1962 in New Haven, Connecticut. She received her B.F.A. in Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and an M.F.A. at Hunter College in New York. She was an artist-in-residence at ART/OMI, and Banff Center for Fine Arts, Alberta, Canada. Her videos have been exhibited internationally in museums, galleries, and festivals including, in New York, at NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star at The New Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, Guggenheim Museum Soho, White Columns, the 1995 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Film and Video Festival and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; 1993 Venice Biennale; Galerie Rizzo, Paris; the Biennale d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, France; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Donegan has had one-person shows at Nicelle Beauchene, New York; Galerie VidalCuglietta, Brussels; Hidde Van Seggelen Gallery, London; Lotta Hammer, London; Baumgartner Galleries, Washington, D.C.; Basilico Fine Arts and the Elizabeth Koury Gallery, New York; as well as solo exhibitions in Nice, Paris, Berlin, and Milan. She lives in New York.