textile art work

Moki Cherry, D.C (cropped), 1981 Photo: Prallan Allsten/Moderna Museet Bildupphovsrätt 2023

Moki Cherry

A Journey Eternal

23.9 2023 – 3.3 2024


Moki Cherry’s colorful art unites painting, sculpture, textiles, and scenography. Everyday life and art are linked together; a musical instrument case forms the base for a painting, bags for packing are reworked into textile collages, and a philosophy with nature at the center is formulated in drawings. Moki Cherry herself commented on this transgressive approach with the description “the stage is a home, and the home is a stage.” The exhibition is the largest presentation to date of the artist’s works.

Moki Cherry’s art could be included as an element of concerts in Paris, Copenhagen, or the Scanian countryside. By presenting her art outside of art galleries and theater stages, in places such as her own home, she dissolved hierarchies between public and private and between creator and viewer. Children, her own and others’, were both observers and collaborators.– Moki Cherry’s multifaceted art continues to fascinate and to be relevant. Her brilliantly-colored idiom, engagement in her surroundings, how she encouraged participation and sought ways to be a parent and an artist at the same time. She shifted from the motto to ‘make a more beautiful world’ as a teenager to ‘life is my artwork’,” describe the exhibition’s curators Elisabeth Millqvist and Andreas Nilsson.

Moki Cherry was a practicing Buddhist for the better part of the 1970s, and Buddhist philosophy had a life-long impact on her. Her work was influenced by art and cultural histories as well as spiritual movements from both Western and Eastern traditions. Her extensive travels and international collaborations also inspired her work. The result is a multi-layered idiom inhabited by human and non-human creatures. Later works exhibit traces of Cubism and more abstract forms.Monika Marianne Karlsson (1943-2009), better known by the name Moki Cherry, was born in Koler in Norrbotten. She grew up in Skåne and moved to Stockholm in 1962 to study fashion. In 1970, she moved with her family to Tågarp in northern Skåne and transformed a former school into the family’s home, which also served as a gathering place centered around music, theater, children’s activities, and art. With her husband, jazz musician Don Cherry, she established Organic Music Society (1966-1977). She enthusiastically describes their shared vision as the biggest thing to happen to the art scene since the Russian Ballet (1909-1929), a comparison that underscores their goal of integrated, interdisciplinary art (Gesamtkunstwerk) and a fusion of artistic genres. From the late 1970s, she split her time between Tågarp and New York.Moki Cherry has a long history with Moderna Museet. In 1971, she and Don Cherry participated in the exhibition “Utopias and Visions 1871-1981”, where they were given the opportunity to create a total installation–a dynamic, living environment where music, art, and everyday life went on simultaneously. Moderna Museet Malmö’s exhibition title, “A Journey Eternal”, is taken from the publication that was produced in 1971. These are the last words in a meandering text by Moki Cherry in which she puts words to her holistic worldview.

Moderna Museet in Stockholm presented an exhibition with Moki Cherry in 2016. Since then, interest in her art has only increased, with several presentations in the USA; in 2021, a comprehensive publication by Blank Forms, New York features both Moki and Don Cherry with a particular focus on the boundary-crossing work that occurred under the name Organic Music. The exhibition at Moderna Museet Malmö also coincides with the 50-year anniversary of Don Cherry’s album Organic Music Society, for which Moki Cherry designed the album cover.

“A Journey Eternal” is the most comprehensive presentation of Moki Cherry’s work to date and gives a broad picture of her oeuvre–from clothing, a hybrid of painting and textile applications, and her vision of interdisciplinary artwork and depictions of home and surroundings to activities intended for children. As an observation of the last element, this exhibition also includes a creative workshop.

Moki Cherry is also the subject of a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and is a part of a group exhibition at Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Previous exhibitions include Malmö Konstmuseum (2018), and Marabouparken, Stockholm (2016); Landskrona Konsthall (2008), and solo exhibitions at Galleri Ping Pong, Malmö (1997) and Kristianstads Länsmuseum (1986). Internationally, her work has been shown at such institutions as Argos in Brussels (2022), Saint Peter’s Church in New York (1992), LAX 814 in Los Angeles (1979), and Centre Beaubourg Pompidou in Paris (1974).

Curators: Elisabeth Millqvist and Andreas Nilsson

The exhibition is presented at Floor 2

Map of Moderna Museet Malmö
Map of Moderna Museet Malmö


textile patchwork in bright colors
Moki Cherry, Tågarp/NY (Photo series from Malibu beach), 1979 ©️Cherry Archive, Estate of Moki Cherry Bildupphovsrätt 2023
textile application of dragon head
Moki Cherry, Title Unknown (Dragon), 1975 ©Anders Sune Berg, Galleri Nicolai Wallner Bildupphovsrätt 2023
painting in bright colors with two figures
Title Unknown, c. 1970 ©Tom Van Eynde, Corbett vs Dempsey Bildupphovsrätt 2023
painting in bright colors
Moki Cherry, Title Unknown, 1968 ©Cherry Archive, Estate of Moki Cherry Bildupphovsrätt 2023

More about this exhibition