Over the Influence is pleased to present Sunnyside Up with Los Angeles-based artist Cha Yuree (Cha). This is Cha’s first presentation with the gallery.

Cha’s brilliantly colored, exuberant paintings capture the imagination, incite joy, and celebrate the profound relationship between humans and the natural world.

Cha started seriously painting in 2019 after nearly a decade of working as a graphic designer. A designer’s sensibility permeates her technicolor paintings, affording them bold, clean lines, voluminous shapes, and vibrant, affecting color combinations. Before turning to the canvas, Cha sketches the compositions digitally, focusing foremost on color before. Rich corals are paired with emerald greens, midnight blues with peachy yellows, and salmon pinks with cool lavenders, complimentary combinations that are at once arresting and soothing and further emphasize the hypnotic quality of the work. There’s a lot of energy in color, says Cha. I want people to both see and feel something.

Looking toward her Korean heritage, with particular attention to the life and legacy of her 85-year-old grandmother, Cha renders autobiographical moments in surreal, dream-like visions. The fish from the factory where her grandmother worked take flight while the ladybugs she looked for as a child, a sign of good fortune, crawl across the sun. Familial female figures, with hair styled in traditional braids, are immortalized in robust, expansive forms. Classic symbols of feminity, fertility, and vitality, such as eggs and flowers, imagined in the artist’s signature poppy style, are revitalized and experienced anew.

In transforming and reimagining the hyper-personal, Cha imbues her work with a mythic, archetypal quality that transcends the boundaries of place and time. The juxtaposition between what is familiar and extraordinary, historical and contemporary, American and Korean, reminds viewers that we are never only one thing and celebrates the multi-faceted nature of identity and experience.

As an anecdote or salve to what is difficult, sad, or terrifying about the current state of the world, Cha turns to the peacefulness of nature and the strength of the women in her life. Two ideas that are for her intrinsically and inexorably linked. There’s a reason we call her mother nature, Cha says. To depict this intimate and symbiotic relationship, she shows women merging with their natural surroundings.

In Warm Summer, a woman’s torso is embraced by brilliant coral morning glories, while in Diver, her face is encircled by shimmering fish. In Sunny Side, the figure’s head disappears behind the limb of a tree, and in Dew Dip, where the figure’s body is submerged in water, and only her eyes appear beneath a lily pad. While the artist hopes to invoke the feelings of joy, solace, and resolve, that she experiences while in nature, she too acknowledges the disastrous consequences of human action upon the natural world and the danger of neglecting or abusing that relationship, as with Wave, where the same fish from the factory is strangled by a six-pack ring—a poignant reminder to protect what provides us with not only peace but the resources needed to survive.  

To view Sunnyside Up is to enter another world, a word that’s as sensational as it is hopeful. Both vibrant and energetic, the paintings emanate a warmth that is impossible to ignore. --Tara Anne Dalbow