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On Marti Somers at Addington Gallery

"Repertoire", Mixed media on panel, 40" x 40"

The paintings of Marti Somers, currently showing at Addington Gallery, Chicago, are rich compilations of images, words, colors, and textures. Flowers, trees, and leaves share the space in each picture with animals, fragments of patterned paper, layers of thin paint over thick, glazes that partially obscure one layer and provide a new layer to work with. 

She almost always works on square panels, whether small or large. This enables her to use the format as a place to play, to move things around, to erase and redraw, to postpone the resolution of the picture until as late in the game as possible. Most often there is an appearance of small shapes dotted around the panels, brought into harmony by bands of lightly scumbled colour. The beauty of the surface stems in part from her use of encaustic, a wax-and-pigment technique that produces a bright, floating look to the painting. 

"Conversations", Mixed media on panel, 40" x 40"

There is a lot to look at in Somers’ pictures, but there is always a delicate sense of order and balance, which may derive from the fact that she was a designer for many years. But her paintings never seem to settle into prettiness: the dense variety of mark-making shows that she is a painter to her core.

The style of painting is very much a signature of this gallery, which is run by Dan Addington, who is himself a painter. The exhibition of Marti Somers’ work continues at Addington Gallery, Chicago, until April 14th.


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