Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

{mel kadel}

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It was once said that Charles Bukowski’s stories are just you and me, sitting on commode.

In reality, Mel Kadel’s work is not too far removed from this concept. In fact, Kadel actually has a drawing of somebody - you, me or her, actually on a commode. Cleverly composed, Kadel’s images speak to daily experience; to making it through another week; and even to what she found, this morning, in the kitchen.

In this, Kadel is not afraid of being all too human. Having spent most of her time hovering over a table, or notebook, since a very young age, making a strong financial living with her developed craft has taken time. Kadel is not shy about her past. Included is art school then subsequent duties rolling burritos, serving tables, pouring coffee, and answering phones. But now, things are falling into place for Mel Kadel. Now, Kadel is juggling a whole variety of projects: Art shows, freelance and commissioned work, as well as album artwork.

In Kadel’s work there are to be found a potpourri of different textures: in paper, grain, stroke, composition and content. In her work, there is to be found that kind of simple profundity that surrounds our daily lives, but rarely is commented on. And this is exactly Kadel’s intent. “I soak in and am inspired by things that are really close to me,” she said, “and those things trigger an idea in me that I try to translate beyond just me and my surroundings.”

In this epistemological process - of translating the world and then letting it come out and onto paper - there must be some particular mechanism inside Kadel's head - maybe even something she drew once - because what comes out of her pen and collages are, apart from being insightful and witty, they are outright adorable. Calm. Perfect.

And within Kadel's content choices, it is apparent that each of her pieces begins internally, as something important. Whether it be moment or a life theory, everything begins inside as an idea or impression. Maintaining an incessant routine of drawing, it is no wonder that a lot of what Kadel sees in the world inevitably dribbles onto the paperher. When prompted to employ some adjectives to describe her work, Kadel chose “Oddly uplifting”. To this end I couldn’t agree more.

Whether her characters have tangled legs, or are raking heart-shaped leaves, Kadel’s work is empowering and speaks to the triumph of days and everything that fills those days: even rats and landlords find a home in Kadel's eye. And while this may appear, topically, to be a quite simple approach – Kadel’s work is far from simple, and her subject matter is far from hackneyed. Her work is clever and coupled with her titles, they are often very humorous and employ a variety of word play.

And her characters… they are indelibly Kadel. All placed in some spacious medium more like a flavor than a world – her characters are active, fluid and nearly always engaged in some movement.

When asked about the content of her work, Kadel said, “We fight a lot of daily battles, and I try to recognize those without the ending looking bleak. Those confrontations we have with ourselves and each other are the things that give us muscles.”