San Francisco, California: The Paul Thiebaud Gallery is pleased to present Vonn Sumner:
Paintings, on display from March 2 through April 17, 2010. Though Sumner’s work appeared in
past group shows, including our Twenty-Five Treasures exhibition in 2008, this presentation
marks his first solo show with our gallery. The paintings are pulled from an ongoing body of
work dating as early as 2008. Ranging from medium to large formats, the contemporary,
figurative paintings offer a fresh approach to realism.
Although Sumner is the subject of many of his paintings, he does not view them as traditional
self-portraits. The guises the artist employs allow him to explore the idea of self. Depicting
himself in oddly-shaped hats and masks allows him to become a sort of “Everyman.” He is
revealing and concealing himself simultaneously. He likens the repeated use of himself as
subject to the inanimate subjects of still life paintings. As he says, “I hoped that through sheer
repetition, my own likeness would lose importance and become a generic or standard figure––
and maybe that came out of the idea of Morandi using those bottles and boxes over and over.”
Sumner often turns to his family and friends as muses for his paintings. The use of their
likenesses is of great importance to the artist. By focusing on people who are meaningful in his
life, he is able to be much more truthful.
Sumner is quite methodical in his process, drawing and painting several studies before achieving
the final work. He gathers his information from life, photographs, and memory to create an
almost dreamlike realism. Subdued colors and subtle tones dominate in Vonn Sumner’s
contemplative paintings, a result of the time he spent in the industrial areas of Los Angeles. He
takes inspiration from, “the infinate shades of gray from the concrete buildings and sidewalks
and freeways and the way the sun fades all the paint off those things.”
Sumner names Morandi, Balthus, Puvis de Chevannes, de Kooning, Giacometti, Park, Rauch,
Thiebaud and Guston amongst his many influences. He is drawn to painters who believe as he
does, that all paintings and drawings of all time periods and cultures exist on a common plane.
Sumner received his first solo musuem show at the Riverside Museum in 2008. His second solo
show will occur later this year at the Phillips Museum of Art, Franklin and Marshall College,
Lancaster, PA. He received his BA and MFA from UC Davis. He resides in State College, PA.
Reception - Tuesday, March 2, 2010 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm; open to the public.