Thursday, May 7, 2009

Allison Sommers' "A Brief History"

I went by Thinkspace last night, just to hang out and soak up the setting-up atmosphere. Though I hadn't come to the gallery for anything but the good company, I was really impressed with the work that Allison Sommers was presenting in her first solo show – so crazy, yet thoughtful at the same time, and so meticulously crafted.

"First Mate"

Allison has so many delicious little pieces that cost next to nothing in this show that it's almost impossible not to buy one. I'm totally in love with this morbidly hilarious piece, "In Ictu Oculi."

"In Ictu Oculi"

I just can't get over the illuminated book! The monk's tonsure! The little sausages and meats embroidered on the stole! The banana penis between the dead figure's confectionery legs! The cherry on top! (...and I think they're going to gobble him up as soon as we look the other way.)
Another irresistible detail – for an aficionado of art history – is that this painting is named after a 1670 vanitas painting by Juan de Valdés Leal. The Latin translates to "In the Twinkling Of an Eye."

"In Ictu Oculi" by Juan de Valdés Leal

Allison was once a student of medieval history. Although she became an artist, her education didn't go to waste. "I think one of the most important things that I took away from my history degree is removing my impression of the 'past' as something static, distant, and drastically different from any cultures now," she said. "People have always been silly and lewd and wonderfully disgusting."

"In Nomine Filii"

There are dozens of amazing little pieces in Allison's show – with astonishing amounts of information in them, painted under a magnifying glass – and loads of ravenous, randy rapscallions. "When I was first planning the show, I knew that I wanted to work with the long-necked creatures of mine that were showing up in my paintings," she explained. "They're so silly and ambiguous – little nattily-dressed ids causing trouble, fornicating, murdering, being all sorts of naughty."

"The Oath"

Allison's work is often festooned with entrails – and this image really doesn't do justice to the beauty of the guts that surround this long-necked knight. "My mother studied medicine for a while, and thus from an early age I had at my disposal those sorts of books – Grey’s Anatomy and the like," she explained. "I’ve always been compelled by viscera, not so much for the 'yuck' factor but the arresting beauty – and color! – of the flesh we carry around with us every day."

"Ice Fishing"

"What’s important to me is that I try to keep both the narrative and the meaning of my work at least slightly ambiguous," she said. "I dislike the notion that there is one certain way to unpack the meaning of a painting, or that there is a preachy intended message therein contained."

"That Old Time Religion"

Allison Sommers' debut solo show will open at Thinkspace on Friday, May 8th. The gallery will also be featuring a solo show in the front room by Kathleen Lolley entitled "Away From the Things of Man" and João Ruas' "Inner Myth Part 1" on the Fresh Faces wall. João's watercolor and gouache technique is so subtle and expressive, and his ideas are truly unique – you really must see the work in person to truly appreciate it. All three artists will be in attendance – so it's quite imperative that you attend. See you there!

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