Brooklyn based artist Allison Sommers mixes elements that are grotesque with natural beauty in her organic mixed media portrayals of animals and figures. Yet despite their disproportions and seemingly exposed internal organs, up close, her works reveal a certain charm and expressiveness. Featured on our blog over the years, she once told us, “I was always trying to draw existing animals as best I could, and once I knew I could draw them, they would start getting a little less realistic”, describing them as naughty creatures, tired beasts, delicious sausages, and exotic feasts. Opening on January 23rd at Last Rites Gallery in New York, Sommers will exhibit a new series of graphite on paper and gouache with mixed media on paper work in “What Passing Bells”.
The title of her show refers to English poet and soldier Wilfred Owen’s popular poem of the First World War, “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, which expressed his remorse for those “who die as cattle”. Sommers shares, “‘What Passing Bells’ has been a jumping-off point for many of my works; the source material I’ve been taking inspiration from, however, should be looked at more like a general companion or a mood scaffolding, rather than as a direct conceptual influence.” Drawn in various media such as graphite, copier pencil, wax crayon, china marker, magic marker, ballpoint pen and fountain pen interspersed with layers of gouache, her works are less literal than previous works and teeter on the metaphorical in the spirit of Owen’s writing. Sommers prefers to keep her exhibit’s meaning subjective, offering both her despair and a hope for salvation for her beautiful, butchered cuts of nudes, cattle, and dogs’ bodies.
Allison Sommers’ “What Passing Bells” will be on view at Last Rites Gallery in New York from January 23rd through February 27th, 2016.