A creative user of wide variety of materials, Jonni Cheatwood is a painter who mixes oil, oil sticks, acrylics and textile. The canvases are built out of pieces of fabrics, which are unified together almost like a puzzle. Cheatwood’s original inspiration for painting started in graffiti, moving onwards to the action painting of abstract expressionism.
Abstract expressionism has, however, made way for a figurative approach in Cheatwood’s newest series of works. “I came to the point of realization that my abstract works didn’t share much about me personally and I felt that I can tell a greater story of myself and heritage through figurative works.”, he tells. “My last show in London was heavy. It was my first fully figurative work and it was the heavy parts of my experiences of 2020 unwrapping and dissecting me, essentially.”, he continues. “These works leaned heavy on the figurative, mostly featuring interiors because my experience and reality is that I am just home a lot these days. I work from home now and I really enjoy home. I wanted to make works that felt warm and inviting.”
Humor and warmth, understanding and care for others as well as himself is apparent in how all the people are presented, but also in the works’ titles, such as “You Don't Gotta Be Anything Else Right Now”. The settings and situations in Cheatwood’s paintings feel like they are taken out of a family photobook. Although the people depicted here aren’t specifically always his own relatives or friends, the works are still about people he can relate to. Each painting here has a piece of the artist’s own personality – hence the show’s title “It Might Be Me”.
Despite changing the style of painting from abstract to figurative, the works in the new exhibition share some traits with his past works, like the inventive use of fabric. In the previous works fabric played mostly a role in creating form, but in the new works, fabric is used as a tool to represent different objects and materials, such as window frames or floor tiling – or even just fabric itself, like in the piece “805, You're Doing Great”, which depicts the artist at work (805 referring to the sewing machine model he uses). Another point of contact to his previous paintings is the use of gestural movements - the painter’s “sweet spot” as he describes them – in the faces of the characters.