THE SLEEP OF REASON

 

URBS

 

An individual exhibition of Astrid Sommer, curated by Conchi Alvarez

 

The title of the new exhibition of Astrid Sommer is a clear nod to Goya´s famous etching, The sleep of reason produces monsters. This is the most emblematic piece, bearing number 43, of the master´s series Caprichos, where he breaks down the vices and evils of his time. In a preliminary sketch, dated in 1797, and which remains at the Museo del Prado, the Aragonese painter made a few notes in black pencil where he clarifies: “The Artist dreaming. His sole intention is to banish injurious vulgarities, and perpetuate this work with whims, the sound testimony of the truth”. Additionally, in the manuscript where the Cover of the piece is kept within the National Library, it gathers the following: “when men do not listen to the voice of reason, all turns to visions”. However, the essence of the practical artist Astrid resides, precisely, in neglecting the voice of reason.

The great Kandinsky once said “the true work of art is born mysteriously”, and only the artist´s soul knows “what shape it needs and where to take it from” in order to create the work of art. Goya found within, alongside an intelligent brain, a tormented soul, torn and heavy with cynicism and bitterness, with an exacerbated critical and ironic sense towards the evils of his time. Nonetheless, unlike Goya, Astrid finds in herself, within that mysterious and profound nest of creation, a series of concepts, sensations, inklings and impressions of optimism and joy, which she transforms into small humanoid figures made up from colourful cut-outs. “Painting with scissors”, as Matisse would say in regards to his own collages. Due to the lack of mobility caused by a crippling illness, he began cutting and pasting, leading to a new means of expression. The current situation, which has led to a mandatory standstill worldwide, has forced artists out of their comfort zone, leading them to endeavour new ways of expressing their art. And Astrid has chosen to do so, for this showing, via small pieces, using a mixed technique: collages with timely interventions with acrylics and pencil on paper.

The juxtaposition of small photographic cuttings, alongside with a few strokes, tiny drawings and signs done in pencil, all come together to obtain an attractive and fascinating result, in a contemporary “opus sectile”.  In her creations, and even more so in this series, there are recurring symbols and shapes which give strength to the idea of the concept or the notion of a humanoid shape. The miniscule characters seem to have been born far too quickly, abandoning the artist´s subconscious with scarcely any time to organise, compose and rationalise such chaos, hustle and bustle. Therefore, through Astrid´s sleep of reason, she has created a sort of deformed dwarf, where, far from upsetting anyone, they are appeasing and alluring. Reason being, perhaps, is that they may be tinged with the dignity and elegance of those of King Philip the IV´s Court, represented in Velazquez´s canvasses.

The title of each piece reflects the synthetic and ideation capacity of the Mexican artist, who has forged a very original and personal iconography, which puts to shame Goncourt´s ominous affirmation: “there are no great women; great women are men”. This concept, so scourge and cursed for the female gender, is smashed to pieces in Astrid´s case, because each item of this exhibition shows a different way of seeing the world, similar to Goya in the sense that there is an attempt to banish “injurious vulgarities” but in antipodes of the master, the simplification, love for the abstract and vital spirit in which the artist gives shape to her subconscious world in works such as “exhilaration”, “wait”, “sharpness”, “grace” “idea”, with a result that resembles more to the great Matisse. Works that are enjoyed and, at the same time, encourages the viewer to endeavour, explore and decipher the shapes, making one not just an accomplice, but instead part of Astrid´s work.

 

ASTRID-SOMMER
ASTRID SOMMER
h

GRACE

Mixed media on paper

50 x 30 cm

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IDEA

Mixed media on paper

50 x 30 cm

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EXHILARATION

Mixed media on paper

50 x 30 cm

h

SHARPNESS

Mixed media on paper

50 x 30 cm

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EXPERIENCE

Mixed media on paper

50 x 30 cm

h

TEMPERANCE

Mixed media on paper

50 x 30 cm

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NOTION

Mixed media on paper

50 x 30 cm

h

CLEVERNESS

Mixed media on paper

50 x 30 cm