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“Afterbirth” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 12" x12", 2010. © Allison Sommers.

Allison Sommers: “Afterbirth”, gouache on illustration board, 12″ x12″, 2010. © Allison Sommers.

Allison Sommers currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She primarily uses gouache and pencil to create most of her art pieces (specifically “Winsor-Newton and Holbein gouache on Strathmore 20-ply illustration board” according to her FAQ page).
What strikes me the most while browsing her work on Flickr is the diversity of images I found: colorful paintings alongside black-and-white drawings, luminous settings alternates with dark composition and while certain subjects seem inoffensive enough (even charming) other are brutally disturbing. Most of them though deal with deformed bodies, humanoid monsters, imaginary insects or more often impossible animals. Things are turned inside out (sexuality and eviscerated guts are involved), opened up and fragmented into a chromatic crowd of small biological details (vegetable, plants, food, smaller organisms, etc.). Some paintings strongly reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, while others felt as a variation on the work of Hieronymus Bosch (most likely because of the details and the constantly renewed parade of hallucinatory monsters although some of Allison illustrations have a more cartoonish signature).
I was first drawn to Sommers’s work when I discovered the recently completed illustration “Cain and Abel” which I intend to use in an upcoming post.
I added a few more paintings by Allison Sommers below (as well as additional online resources about her). But the best way to experience her art (aside from having the chance to see it in an exhibition) is to visit her official website and browse through her Flickr account. She’s also present on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Google+.
The following images were all retrieved either from Sommers’s Flickr account or from her exhibition “Schlarafenland” over at Thinkspace Gallery.

“The Starving Time” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 6" x 10", 2007. © Allison Sommers
“The Starving Time” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 6" x 10", 2007. © Allison Sommers
“Nothing to Eat” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 4.5" x 6.5", 2008. © Allison Sommers
“Nothing to Eat” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 4.5" x 6.5", 2008. © Allison Sommers
“Beneath” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 12" x 12", 2010. © Allison Sommers
“Beneath” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 12" x 12", 2010. © Allison Sommers
“Dowry” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 7.5" x 7", 2010. © Allison Sommers
“Dowry” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 7.5" x 7", 2010. © Allison Sommers
“I’m Charlie” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 6" x 7", 2010. © Allison Sommers
“I’m Charlie” by Allison Sommers, gouache on illustration board, 6" x 7", 2010. © Allison Sommers

More resources online about Allison Sommers:

  • At her official website: a collection of relevant links (some of them are listed below).
  • Arrested Motion: “Interviews: Allison Sommers” November 18, 2008. Excerpt:

    AM: You seem to have a fascination with entrails, intestines, organs, and anatomy. Do you have a medical backgound?
    AS: Not in any formal way, although 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. I’ve always been compelled by viscera, not so much for the -yuk- factor but the arresting beauty –and color!– of the flesh we carry around with us every day. There’s something very unifying about it– and always a little strange– because you do feel something basic about it on a gut level. Hah.

  • Tangled Fingers: “Allison Sommers Interview” by Jes Fortner, November 3, 2011. Excerpt:

    Q1. Tell us a bit about your work.
    I’ve been drawing and painting since I was tiny, and it’s been something by which I define myself since then. My work is pretty escapist– I’ve been running away to those la-la lands ever since I started drawing them…

  • Hi-Fructose: “A Studio Visit with Allison Sommers” by JL Schnabel, January 2, 2012. Excerpt:

    Featuring her signature style of miniature scale paintings composed of gouache on paper, the clusters of creatures, either employed as soldiers, beasts or nurses amongst others are engaged in action in darkened, war torn landscape. Illuminating the scale and inventiveness of Sommers who will also be showing one of the largest pieces she’s created to date, several of the smallest works are housed with antique matchboxes. Hi-Fructose recently had the opportunity to visit Sommers’ studio, take a look at her curious collections and a preview of the new work after below.

  • Juxtapoz: “Back Talk: A Conversation With Allison Sommers” December 30, 2012. An interview made of short questions and short answers:

    8. Something that concerns you: That strange area where art and market mingle…
    9. Artists you admire: Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth, Otto Dix.

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