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November 24 - December 22, 2007 at SolwayJones, West Hollywood

by Elenore Welles

Geometry as a means of describing nature derives from an ancient communication for identifying life forms in the chain of existence. As a way of seeing the world autobiographically, it has a long tradition among artists, scientists and occultists. Cherie Benner Davis continues that convention through grids, floor plans and maps, each a reflection of a personal core of ideas and experiences. A master colorist, her subtle disposition of color areas holds her geometric structures in place. Even the most assertive hues are kept under absolute control.

In contrast to the art of the mid-sixties, when mechanical systemization was characteristic of minimalism, Benner Davis uses geometric systems to formulate and express ideas. They are, in fact, metaphorical manipulations of order, geared to create different levels of perceptual and conceptual logic. Hence, her visual vocabulary is not easily decipherable.

Due to the influence of an anatomy class, many of her symbolic systems echo the correspondence between the human body, Platonic shapes and the exterior world. For instance, there is associative relevance in “Brain Map I,” where she addresses the control we must relinquish to both internal and external systems. The central nervous system, the autonomic control of our body, is shown hooked up to the Los Angeles freeway system. Marking locations  throughout the city that are necessary for her to travel, she draws attention to how the stress of urban systems (public) affects the anatomical (personal).

She quite literally uses lifeblood systems to express interconnections and transcendence. In “Your Love Transfusion Can Save my Soul,” for example, circulatory systems travel back and forth between a man and a woman. In a fanciful twist, their brain waves emit airplanes that commute from one to the other. . .further assurance of a continual interchange.

Expanding on the harmonic interchange of a personal relationship, she extends it to a macrocosmic level. It is the prerogative of artistic imagination to make oneself the center of the universe, and she does just that in “If I Ruled the World.” Centrally located on a flattened atlas, doves of peace flutter around as her circulatory system reaches out to all nations. Regions that are color-coded to depict predominant religious influences are infused and united by her veins and vessels. The personal is quite literally political in a painting that throbs with intensity and vibrant color.

“If I Ruled the World," 2007,
oil on canvas, 72 x 126”.

"Your Love Transfustions Can't
Save My Soul," 2007, oil
on canvas, 60 x 80".

"Vortex 3," 2007, oil
on panel, 60 x 48".

"Brain Map I," 2006, oil on
carved panel, 60 x 72".

"Great Wave," 2007, oil
on panel, 60 x 48".

A professed perfectionist, her compulsion to exert order on chaos is constantly being thwarted. As the new owner of a “fixer- upper” house, many of her paintings reflect the insecurity imposed by her pursuit of perfection through the process of revitalization.  Depicting her house and garden as overcome by natural disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes, structure and furniture are sucked into whirling vortexes. They float off like defiant flotsam, offering themselves up to the Gods of Neatness. The paintings are her way of confronting the transitory nature of life. Ultimately, it’s the relinquishing of control she strives for, with the recognition that disorder, though ongoing, can eventually turn into renewable concretions.

By manipulating and re-imagining geometry to project not only movement but also the idea that space and time are not absolute, Benner Davis achieves a lyricism that overtakes formality.