Don’t be surprised if you see the likeness of a hip hop megastar etched into the watercolor pencil artwork included in Fever Dreams, a brilliantly bizarre exhibition now on view in  RISD’s Painting gallery. The two-person show features work by Geoffrey Chadsey, an artist who’s been known to incorporate references to pop icons in his gender-bending sketches.

“My work used to be like Where’s Waldo. You could point out celebrities included in the work,” notes Chadsey. “I’ve now stripped out the references – though I admit it’s fun to point out Jay-Z [in my pieces].”

Chadsey is also presenting intriguing sketches originally inspired by self-portraits posted by anonymous photographers on the Internet. The professional photo editor used plastic sheeting to create a layered effect (pictured bottom left).

“I feel these pieces are really appealing even though they’re also quite intense. Maybe it’s because the artist uses warm tones,” notes Heather McPherson 08 PT, an alum who attended last Tuesday’s opening reception for the show.

Fever Dreams also presents masterful paintings by Associate Professor Angela Dufresne, who joined RISD’s faculty last year. One of her pieces (bottom right image) was originally inspired by a photograph of Chadsey taken by his partner.

According to Dufresne, the powerful piece is rooted in the feelings of lust and passion. “I allowed myself to enter a vulnerable space to paint an image that’s based on desire,” she says.

Fever Dreams is on view through November 12 at the Painting Gallery, located on the second floor of RISD’s Memorial Hall!

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