New Work From Rachell SumpterIllustration // Friday, 01 Nov 2013
Rachell Sumpter paints splendors into a desolate, peopled wilderness. Using layered gouache and pastel, these are scenes at once of community and of isolation: figures stand in heavy, embroidered clothing, hidden and yet seen, in procession, in ceremony or in witness to a wonder. There are melting mountain tops and bonfires, ghosts and graves; vast monuments and intimate moments that speak to the legacies a generation leaves, to the promises it makes. Sumpter borrows symbols from religious and political traditions, from dream, from our threatened natural world. And yet amid these artifacts, memories and future relics, there is a human closeness, a physical intimacy. This lends an optimism to what might otherwise seem an elegy. In this bleak and changing landscape there are celebrations as well as lamentations, and with deceptively simple strokes she creates an iconography for the longed-for and the feared: a mythology of mystery, pleasure, and the foreshadowing of loss.