Pennsylvania artist Cheryl Hochberg is exhibiting a suite of magical paintings at The Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, N.Y., in a solo exhibit running from September 8 to November 1.
Entitled Things Just Keep Getting Stranger, the exhibit features several works that embrace realism in straightforward fashion—llamas with insouciant personalities, an “unkempt” young buffalo, and hauntingly beautiful images of the white storks of Erfoud, Morocco, soaring against a backdrop of the desert in scenes embroidered by the filigree of metalwork in the foreground.
Things definitely get much stranger, however. Of her paintings, which incorporate elements of collage, Hochberg says, “In its realism my work tries to bring this strangeness I see in everything up to the surface.” “Last to Leave,” for example, depicts a snow-covered landscape in which three very cold figures huddle around the fire in a brazier—standing underneath a giant steer. Hochberg credits animals with having an “uncanny quality” that attracts her to them, and her work typically features landscapes with animals, either in the tradition of realism or provocatively venturing into the realm of surrealism or magical realism. Two of the most evocative and mysterious paintings in the exhibit feature figures that are half-human and half-bird, flying over Mediterranean islands and even a volcano. In one painting, a hybrid figure holds a vase of flowers, while another bird person carries full shopping bags. The works are entitled “Alicudi I” and “Alicudi II,” referencing the westernmost island in the Aeolian archipelago, the volcanic island chain north of Sicily.
“We were in Sicily and the Aeolian islands and a friend showed me a documentary about the smallest island, Alicudi,” Hochberg recalled of her inspiration. “It’s a very isolated island, and in the documentary they say in the 1950s they got a bad grain shipment and everyone hallucinated. They all thought they were animals.” Hochberg was fascinated by the documentary’s revelation that the women had never talked to each other about their shared experiences before the documentary. “That’s really fascinating for about a million reasons … at what point is a memory a real thing was the substance of those paintings,” the artist said. In addition to painting and drawing, Hochberg creates sculptural work, and does performance work and collaborative work.
Hochberg is a Professor of Art at Kutztown University, where she is Program Director for Applied Digital Arts and the College of Visual Arts Academic Success Specialist. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Her work has been exhibited throughout the U.S., with recent solo exhibitions including shows at the Radford University Art Museum, the Allentown Art Museum, Montgomery College/Takoma Park, and Sweetbriar College. The artist’s work is in the collections of the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia, the Westinghouse Corporation, and the Lehigh Valley Hospital.