Go Beneath the Surface: Underworld
Alexis Amann’s upcoming exhibit examines the clandestine forces that shape our existence. The artist superimposes the inner workings of the physical world over the universal theme of inner psychological struggle. Underworld will open on April 25th and promises to be a rabbit-hole experience where Amann’s work, mostly realized in gouache on paper, presses into a world full of dreams, fears, and magic.
The earth parts in Amann’s paintings, and what comes to the surface is an introspective glance into “the worlds and stories living beneath our skin, our heads, our sky, our rocks, our waves.” The fault lines crack and crumble to reveal a dusty crevasse or an empty riverbed. Death takes a walk with her friends. Yet, among the terrors of drought and quake, there lies a body of stars and secrets. The paintings seem to wink and sigh. They remind me of how young humans are.
Crepescular palettes color subjects that seem ancient and wise – mothers, witches, skeletons, and backpackers – giggle and dance. Earthly terrain refuses to submit to gravity, and the night sky lives in a house. Backpackers wander with their homes on their backs, or wear landscapes like hats. The idea that the wellbeing of the planet should be at the top of our minds is neatly literalized.
Amann is a Bay Area artist who describes her work as “layers of worlds populated by girls, fish, zombies, rabbits, houses, boats, whales, demons, harpies, and other flora and fauna driven by the forces of love and water.” Her illustrative style is a welcome respite from academic realism or overt abstraction. Amann is able to conjure the dual forces of danger and optimism that characterize the contemporary moment.