Kevin Sonmor’s vast body of work has been a devoted exploration or map-making of the contemporary condition seen through the lens of the history of painting, in epic form.
This history is no longer conventionally seen as a series of periodic developments, with each one climbing on the shoulders of the previous, but as a flattened and layered field into which the contemporary artist explores across and down into, drawing up remnants, recovering fragments and reorganizing them into images that express a constant retracing over familiar terrain in search of new and challenging possibilities that wield validity in the present.
If the contemporary condition is characterized by dealing with dead ends ̶ the collapse of both history’s grand narratives of progress and the endless idealization of the limitlessness of nature without concern for its effects upon ourselves, materially and psychologically ̶ then what remains is a turnabout to face our own limits, and a realization that out of these losses one must constrain and reinvent. Like a wanderer cast upon a terrain that is boundless and familiar, whose only recourse is to trace and retrace steps already taken, the challenge becomes one of cartographic revision: to mark out new meanings from the overlooked, the obscure and the marginalized. As a painter with the command and interest to draw from his great understanding of the medium’s history from the 15th century to the present, Sonmor is uniquely positioned to remap with his painting.