Elke Sommer: The Official Website - Art Review by Professor Dr. Ulrich Gehre
(c) 2009 www.elkesommeronline.com

Art Review by Professor Dr. Ulrich Gehre  


Priests in clerical clothing not displaying their usual stiff dignity but dancing barefoot ring-a-ring-a-roses; a little farmer protecting his wife with an open umbrella from the unpleasant business card released by a white bird; a little dog jumping at his mistress’s legs; a lady dressed in purple swaying on a garden swing amidst a wilderness of calla lilies – this is the world that Elke Sommer shares with us through her art.

From early childhood on, painting was part of her life, and her virtuoso craftsmanship in this genre of painting deserves utmost respect and recognition. Over the years, Elke Sommer has developed her own, very personal style. Her painting reflects many aspects of Henri Rousseau’s artwork, who is the world-famous and magnificent “prime father” of Naïve or Primitive Art. Furthermore, her art shows a fundamental and profound understanding for Leger and Gauguin. Despite all these influences, Elke Sommer has found her very special and distinctive personal style.

Elke Sommer’s art depicts mainly scenes from the rural world of farmers, which creates a sharp contrast to her own reality. The paintress and actress resides in the big cities of this world. Her paintings express her strong desire for living in an idyllic world and during more innocent times. There, in the countryside and in the “ideal world” that she is yearning for, she sees the paradisiacal immediateness of life, which has almost disappeared from real life. A paradisiacal island in the middle of a gray and martial world, which is peaceless and joyless.

With huge talent and with the irrevocable belief in fantasy and fairy tales, the artist creates beings – women in long robes, children playing in happy unselfconsciousness, men with black handlebar moustaches; people who wear hats that offer cover; all the individual characters can be easily recognized by family likeness.

However, next to them and between them are horses and apes, side by side with wild and funny looking animals like, for instance, a red lion and a purple-colored dog. In her art, she blends the real world with her dream worlds as her heart desires, as if, in doing so, the artist were creating her own universe, in which she manages to interweave the characters from both universes.

It would most certainly be far too simple for any art critic to label Elke Sommer’s paintings strictly as “naive”. Her distinctive scenes, which she translates onto the canvas with a vital sense of color, pre-eminent craftsmanship, and elegant technique, are kind pieces of art, which are so uncomplicated that they find their way from the analyzing eye not only through the heart but also easily into the heart.

Professor Dr. Gehre
Art historian
Cologne, Germany

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