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6 Michael Cheval Artworks Explained by the Artist

 In Art Puzzles & Trivia, Articles, Artists & Special Collections, Michael Cheval

The Absurdist art of Michael Cheval is thought-provoking and a joy to examine, but it can also leave viewers with more questions than answers, such as “what is the meaning behind this?”

Cheval says one of the greatest joys he experiences in creating art is starting a “game” with the viewer, where they must solve the riddle of the painting’s hidden meaning. The titles serve as clues, but the rest is left up to the viewer to decipher.

“I turn everything upside down and let people see the common things in a new light from a different angle,” Cheval says. “It’s regular, usual things—it’s about love and hate, about dreams, about magic.”

As much as Cheval enjoys the interaction between art and viewer, he does have his own meanings behind each work. Cheval graciously provided explanations to some of his artwork available through Park West Gallery, but continues to encourage his collectors to find their own meanings.

“When the viewer has his own explanation for my work, I really appreciate it because this is a game with a two-way street,” he says. “It means I provoked him to think and it means we co-author with this process of creativity.”

Here are Cheval’s personal insights on 6 of his most famous—and most enigmatic—works:

 

ENIGMA

Dye Sublimation Park West Gallery Michael Cheval

“Enigma” (2015), Michael Cheval

The question of nature versus nurture is one deserving of thought. In exploring the question with this artwork, Cheval draws upon his Russian heritage and uses the martyoshka doll concept. In his words:

“A man is a nature’s child, her essential part. All processes, occurring in nature, happen with man as well. From birth to death—bloom, maturity, fading. And again there is birth, possibly in a different appearance. Do former generations remain in consecutive ones? Do children repeat their parents? The model of ‘matryoshka’ best illustrates this concept.”

 

IMAGINE II

Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

“Imagine II” (2015), Michael Cheval

Fans of The Beatles and John Lennon may have already unlocked the meanings behind this work, but Cheval provides more insight into the thought behind this painting and why the woman in front of Lennon is not Yoko Ono:

“This work is dedicated to John Lennon. He is the main character of the paining who sits on the mosaic floor located in Central Park, New York. This famous mosaic, from the ‘Strawberry Fields’ opposite the house where the legendary musician lived and died, is a pilgrimage center for fans devoted to Lennon and ‘Beatles.’”

“The woman figure lying on Lennon’s knees is not Yoko Ono, but a symbol of Music, incredible and full of surprises, like the silent violin that she plays. Strawberries are all around Lennon’s figure, even in his hat. The hat looks like a juicer with a clock mechanism. Perhaps, for Lennon, the Strawberry image was a symbol of love and, I think, juice from these berries fed his creativity as the God’s nectar. Love feeds creativity—this is an axiom.”

 

DISCORD OF ANALOGY

Dye Sublimation Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

“Discord of Analogy” (2015), Michael Cheval

This artwork, depicting Mozart with a companion, can work if it is right-side up or upside down. Like his other works, Cheval notes that nothing is by accident in his art, including the topsy-turvy design. He even encourages collectors to see if they prefer this work upside down:

“Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart served as an inspiration for this painting. Like many other creators, he always sensed misunderstanding from people, even those close to him. Creator and solitude are kindred concepts. Creator always lives in another dimension. Hard to decide whose dimension is right. Mozart, sitting on the floor, or his companion, seated on the ceiling? Try to turn the painting upside-down and now she will be seated by the piano on the floor, and he on the ceiling. Whatever feels closer. Whichever one likes.”

 

EVOLUTION

Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

“Evolution” (2015), Michael Cheval

As the title suggests, Cheval draws upon the theory of evolution for this artwork. The imagery is reminiscent of illustrations depicting the evolution of humans, but Cheval’s themes go beyond science:

“According to Darwin’s theory, everything evolves from primitive to complex. Actually everything in our life is a subject to this law. Social and personal relationships grow and develop complication. More developed systems control a primitive one. This can be illustrated by the example of the puppet theater, where a human controls a beautiful doll with a porcelain head, which in turn controls a wooden doll, and it manages a rag doll, which resembles a man. Doesn’t it look the same in our society?”

 

INSPIRATION

Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

“Inspiration” (2015), Michael Cheval

Inspiration can strike at any time, but what is the nature of inspiration? Cheval invites viewers to ponder such questions by drawing upon mythology to examine inspiration and creativity:

“What is Inspiration? How does it look, this delicate and elusive feeling, when you desire to create? The ancient Greeks gave to each of arts a separate Muse. But, nevertheless, it does not explain the nature of creativity. In this painting—the green table lamp turns to a female figure. Light bulb turns into glowing balls symbolizing the energy of creativity. The writer left his desk and typewriter, he was tired and went to sleep. But most likely, he left something unfinished because the inspiration remains in his room, expecting that the writer will come back and finish the chapter. Do not leave for tomorrow what you could do today!”

 

 

LOVE HUNTER II

Michael Cheval Park West Gallery

“Love Hunter II” (2015), Michael Cheval

This painting encapsulates the Absurdist style of Cheval, and begs the question of what it means. What is the lovely maiden hunting? An excerpt from his explanation sheds light on the juxtaposition of a crossbow that doubles as a lute:

“Love is not just roses, sighing in the moonlight and gentle words. Love is a real war. A man and a woman hunt for each other. And someone in the war wins and someone loses. It is very important that a loser doesn’t realize that he had lost. On this hunt, as in a war, all expedients are good. To hunt down, and gently entice a win. This lady-hunter has a beautiful weapon. Delicate lute imperceptibly turns into the [crossbow]. Rabbits popping out of her satin skirt—it is what she is complete—they symbolize her desire.”

Be sure to view Park West Gallery’s full Michael Cheval collection. For information on how to collect the art of Michael Cheval, contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 or sales@parkwestgallery.com.

 

Listen to Michael Cheval tell his story on Park West Gallery’s “Behind the Artist” podcast!

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Showing 33 comments
  • Janie Brynolf
    Reply

    I just received my copy of Enigma for my therapy office. I’m so in love with her. Thank you Michael for creating such a masterpiece. Thank you “Rae” for selling her to me, and helping take her a home.

    -Janie

  • Connie Ambrosio
    Reply

    I was with my two sisters when I saw Enigma and had to have it. It reminded us of our mother giving birth to the three of us. I love it.

  • Sandra L Berry
    Reply

    I just love ALL of these,they truly are extremely intriguing to me.
    The bring out the artistic from within my own selfless soul.
    Every since I’ve returned from my last cruise and I attended one of your actions for the first time. I have finally been able to say that I honestly found “my muse”, once again.
    Thank you so very much for that,Park West Gallery.

  • Sandra L Berry
    Reply

    I just wish that you will please send me the rest of my order.
    My beautiful lady Still hasn’t arrived yet. And that is one reason why I haven’t made a recent payment yet. But not to worry, I will be calling in a payment tomorrow.
    I just can’t wait for my lady to arrive. She’s so beautiful.
    Thank you for your understanding. And God bless.

  • Edward OLeary
    Reply

    Enjoy reading the article and the art works..

  • Lida
    Reply

    Saved as a favorite, I like your website!

  • Bradford
    Reply

    I love what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and exposure!
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  • Zoe
    Reply

    I always spent my half an hour to read this webpage’s posts daily along with a cup of coffee.

  • ชุดเดรส
    Reply

    Great post.

  • Michael
    Reply

    This info is worth everyone’s attention. When can I
    find out more?

  • Greg
    Reply

    We have 9 Chevals and love them all! My favorite artist!!

  • Rachel
    Reply

    I’ve never really been interested in buying artwork for myself, until I went on a Princess Cruise. I instantly fell in love with Cheval’s artwork (‘Time to be a Queen’ and ‘Evolution’ in particular). I found out that they were auctioning off some minis, so I bought 2 (‘Enigma’ and ‘Evolution’). So happy! Can’t wait to add more to my collection

  • Jack Blocker
    Reply

    Just mounted John Lennon over the fireplace. The picture is even more vibrant than when we purchased it on our cruise. Park west did an extraordinary job of shipping it, we have 5 other paintings coming from the cruise, can’t wait to rotate out some of our other art.

  • Elizabeth Barton
    Reply

    I have put the Analogy of Discord above my television (which to those who know me speaks volumes). I want to thank Samaksh Kapur for presenting this particular piece to me. It carries great meaning in my current affairs. I encourage all to participate in a Park West Event as they are always informative as well as entertaining. You never know what you are going to see that will inspire you and your creative side as well.

  • Anthony Brown
    Reply

    I purchased a Michael Cheval on an Alaskan cruise last year 2016.
    It hangs as pride of place above my Antique desk in my office in Brisbane Australia.
    I would like to congratulate your Staff who were all so friendly and professional.
    And of course the incredible talent of Michael Cheval.
    I am very proud to have your Mozart piece in my Collection.
    Congrats Park West look forward to your next newsletter.
    Kind Regards.
    Anthony.

  • Melodie
    Reply

    I purchased Enigma on my last Princess cruise to the Med in August, I love her! Hoping to purchase more Michael Cheval pieces. Love the color, and depth, and originality. Thank you Park West, and Michael Cheval.

  • Jon
    Reply

    Recently purchased my 2nd print,
    Viewed the Original Love Huntress with the automatic weapon when making purchase but received Love Huntress II instead.
    Was not expecting this difference.
    It came numbered EA. 103 issues.
    Curious why the switch?

  • Craig
    Reply

    We just purchased a collection on a cruise, dye sublimation on aluminum? Different than the prints, so hopefully they arrive that way. I can’t wait to see them

  • Christine Blount
    Reply

    I love Mr. Cheval’s work!
    My husband has purchased “Love Hunter II” for me. I can’t wait until it arrives! She speaks to me somehow.

  • Sheila Wilson
    Reply

    Who’s the man’s face in the upper right corner of “Imagine II, vers II”?
    Are there any other significance’s in the piece?

  • Janna
    Reply

    Where Can I buy Michael Cheval work limited additions prints?

  • Said
    Reply

    I have bought 3 limited edition prints from Wyland Gallery in LV (12th Caprice of Casanova, Guardian Angles & Harbor of Hope) for M Cheval. I have really fell in in love with all of them. They are gorgeous. I wanted to congratulate Michael for such talent.

  • Charlotte Moore
    Reply

    I purchased “Earthbound” on a VIP Princess cruise and absolutely love it. I love Cheval’s creative
    whimsy!

  • Kevin
    Reply

    I have 4 pieces by Michael Cheval. There’s only one that I’ve not managed to explain – Magician’s Birthday. I have previously written to Michael seeking clarity, but he hasn’t responded. So, I’m still in the dark. This is sad, as I find the piece intriguing.

  • ABCya
    Reply

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  • Toby Romero
    Reply

    I have just received Enigma II. I just want to carry her around with me so i can stare at her. Mr. Cheval’s use of color is wonderful. I am anticipating Imagine II’s arrival. But not to soon. I want to be able to devote my attention to Enigma II.
    My sister-in-law and I enjoy pulling meaning from the artwork. And so I enjoyed reading Mr Cheval’s explanation of paintings.

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