Landing Contemporary Art launching new Alison Underwood exhibit in February
By Kristie Landing
It is on the threshold of beauty and decay, desire and despair that this collection of five new works by Alison Underwood hovers.
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
— T.S. Eliot
We are pleased to announce the exhibition Alison Underwood: Love Bites, opening online on February 3rd, 2022.
It is on the threshold of beauty and decay, desire and despair that this collection of five new works by Alison Underwood hovers. Emotions spill and unfold in five narrative bites with no beginning and no end — moments captured in the height of passion and transfixed in time. Lips brush on the edge of a kiss, tears fall like glistening beads, and hands cast a spell in one image, but not the next. A mouth opens in a scream of pleasure or pain — we know not which. It’s a cinematic landscape where scenes play out on a torn film strip. Enter a world built by Underwood that’s dark, Lynchian, and above all, intoxicating.
Enter a world built by Underwood that’s dark, Lynchian, and above all, intoxicating.
These surreally beautiful “love bites” are rooted in design aesthetics, with recognizable symbols from Underwood’s artistic lexicon. The U-shape in any direction harks back to her earlier works, representing a portal or doorway to the unknown. Whether it ushers the characters in these mini-dramas into another reality or serves as a reminder to the viewer that what we see is only one snippet is part of the pervasive mystery of Underwood’s storytelling.
Large circular bodies resembling moons frame several of the subjects and nod to darkness and the night. There’s a touch of magic in the intricate beadwork that has been hand-stitched by the artist onto the canvas. A gray matter looms like a shadow in every work, an undercurrent of something nasty. Yet, like dreams and nightmares, the meaning of these works largely remains impenetrable.
A gray matter looms like a shadow in every work, an undercurrent of something nasty.
The narrowly focused images remove any larger context that would round out understanding. With a feeling of generalized specificity, the viewer is given the space for instinctual exploration, much in the way that Underwood’s process uses dream logic and chance. The experience of these works is designed to be intuitive, allowing elements to bubble up from the unconscious. Together, Underwood’s techniques speak to the fluid potential of the body and embodiment: a fever dream of secrecy and turmoil, proximity, distance, and ecstasy — a falling shadow.
Alison Underwood grew up in a small town in rural Kentucky. She holds a B.A. in Studio Art fromThe University of Louisvilleand an M.A. in History of Design and Curatorial Studies fromParsons/Cooper Hewitt.Working across many practices, including painting, printmaking, collage, and digital, Underwood manifests a fascination with desire, dreams, and longing through the integration of richly layered symbolism in her work. She threads a path between the real and the mystical that is rendered more surreal by the lack of solid ground represented. The sublime elements in her work create an aura of unrequited passion; a longing for something that transcends this world. She currently lives and works from her studio in East Nashville, TN.