Allison Sommers’ (A.W. Sommers) work seems to implode upon itself, splattering across the canvas in a brilliant mess of bulge, flesh, and organs. Self- taught and working mostly in gouache and pencil, Allison recreates our anatomy, disembodying and patching back together as she pleases. The result is a collection of surrealism at its finest. Sommers zooms in to illustrate the creases of our intestines and then zooms out to depict our notion of the afterlife, reflected in the peculiar life forms she creates.
What stands out most to me about Allison’s work is the inherent joy present in her characters. Though they may be repulsive in their costumes of bulge, meat, and exposed innards, they delight in frolicking about the universe Sommers has built for them. They’re like children, made of hide and sacks of bones, blissfully ignorant and perpetually at play. Her characters are dark and sinister and at times probably uncomfortably moist, but still adrift in the beautiful impossibility of their own mortality, alive and dead. The majority of Sommers’ work that I have seen presents death in a variety of manners. One of her pieces, titled “Death Came”, strikes me in a particularly touching way, because of its innocent acceptance of the end by a simple creature, as simple as we are. The morbid element is there, but gives off a comforting and broken warmth, as if you were being bathed in the light coming through a torn lampshade, in an empty but familiar room, on the day of a funeral.
Allison’s signature gouache technique gives her work instantaneous appeal; a glance is just not enough. She is able to blend unorthodox hues that, when paired with the right stroke, have the appearance of near- transparent body tissue or the telltale shine of moisture on flesh. Some of her more cavernous environments resemble what I imagine the acid pits of our stomachs look like- strange, yet undoubtedly a part of ourselves. Allison’s mind is complex in a lovely way; I am wholly glad she is able to convert her imagination’s meanderings into passionate and tangible pieces for us to explore.
Allison Sommers’ work is easy to digest despite its mystery and tangles and snarls. It connects us, as living beings, to her underworld. It begs to be questioned, only to give us an answer we didn’t know we were looking for. The absurdity, uncertainty, and whisper of death in her artwork brings us closer to the artist, as well as to our insatiable desire to know the workings of our world. To check out more of Allison’s work, visit allisonsommers.com or stop by the 13th Hour Exhibition happening now until November 7th at the Last Rites Gallery in NYC.