Thomas Sommer paints sublime landscapes inspired the psychological or physical affect of nature’s grandeur. His work deliberately references the Romantic tradition of landscape paintings, borrowing from the colour palettes and gestures of art historical canons such as Caspar David Friedrich, Ivan Aivazovsky, Henry Fuseli or even J.M.W. Turner. Yet, painted two centuries after his cited sources, the landscape that Sommer depicts carries the mark of our present relationship to the environment, one that bears the indelible mark of human activity. His work seeks to situate the complicated posture of nature within our ethos as it continues to be the subject of much public anxiety.
In his most recent body of work, Thomas Sommer brings together multiple painted canvases into a compositional whole as a means of grasping the complexities of his subject of predilection. Metaphorically, they seem to reveal a fractured connection to nature, while calling for communion by bringing these individual pieces together to form a single picture.
As we live amidst a world that negotiates its existence within a heavily damaged natural environment, Sommer translates this reality into psychological states rather than definite sites painted with accuracy. While nature is ever presented as grandiose and imposing, there is a lingering feeling of dread that pervade these new works. Figures seem to exist in discomfort inside the scenes while the skies look ominous.
Certainly, the landscape is central to Sommer’s work, yet it exists inside each of the composition as a framed subject. Domestic elements, whether they are draping shapes or architectural structures encircle the depicted scenery. Ultimately, Thomas Sommer’s paintings are meant as a deeply psychological reflection on the malaise of our times as brought on by the imminent ecology tragedy.
Text by Anais Castro