We are pleased to present a short interview with Sara Sonas, Having previously studied in Seville and Zagreb, Sonas recently completed a Masters course in painting at the Glasgow School of Art. Paintings and sculptures which are monumental in prescence if not in scale, her work was among the last featured at Glasgows Tontine building before the school moved its painting department back to the main campus. Besides showing in Scotland Sonas has a show opening in Croatia this sunday at Galerija
Hey thanks for speaking with us,
Some of these titles have a fairly intuitive relationship to what’s depicted, Mosquito Andaluz for example, some of them are more like riddles, the Éire/Ireland had me thinking of a GPS route. Could you talk about the scale of the work and how it relates to the content? Because the images are singular or solitary the scale of the space depicted is a bit open ended.
The series of works ‘In the tabernacle of memory’ are depictions of places I travelled to and lived in, so they represent a sort of mapping diaries of my routes as mementos. These works are time-based experiences on a large scale as a generated record.
Mosquito Andaluz is a painting made of mapping my time of living in Spain, remembering its summer heat and mosquito bites well. The path was a deliberate sketch, a map I followed, and when tracking down my routes – it ‘coincidentally’ formed the shape of a mosquito.
The size of each of the works is done to scale of each country, but they also capture the distance travelled. Metaphorically, the underlying theme is the connection between my travels and memories; it is also a trip into exploration of my inner nature.
This series is not yet finished and will continue to expand as my travels go on, following my path through life.
In part because of the use of Bitumen, there seems to be quite a direct relationship to architecture or construction, or a sort of laboured mechanical procedure of excavating forms, would you talk about your process and the materiality of your work a bit?
Material is a vital element of my practice. I think of it as a subconscious respond on my longing for natural environment in this more and more digitally connected world; giving emphasis on tactility, physical presence and its qualities.
A continuous tread of architecture can be found in all of my works, as that was a part of my former education. Therefore, I tend to construct my works as geometrical games, utilising and interacting between various textures and forms of materials.
In this particular series, a natural texture is selected and juxtaposed with bitumen to meet a symbolic and visually tactile expression of an experience. Hessian was always related to transportation, often associated with bags in which potatoes and other agricultural products were carried and delivered. Hence, in hessian there is the element of translucence. In a way the hessian is me, acting as a view finder – of little snippets of memories.
On the other hand, bitumen, as a heavy polymer road paint, acts as a signifier to the movement I made through that particular chapter in time, which is now a path inside of me. It is a symbolic representation of the land we all walk on and leave a trace – a path that marks and remembers.
We’d also love to know what you’re reading lately?
I have read quite a few books lately. At the moment I am finishing up reading John O’Donohoe’s Anam Cara, and in the same time reading Thich Nhat Hanh booklet on How to See. Both books perfectly capture a poetical essence of spirituality which always gives me a lot of inspiration for the further development of my works.
The previous interviews we did, before quarantine, we were asking if people had seen any recent exhibits they really enjoyed, but with things closed I wonder how your viewing habits have changed? If there are any online events, ones you’re involved in, or just ones that you’ve seen that made an impression.
This worldwide challenge have had a lot of effect on my viewing habits, as I usually love wandering around galleries and museums to absorb the ambiance and physically experience artworks.
At the moment, I am in preparation for an exhibition which will take place in Croatia this July. Some of my works were and some still are exhibited in couple of online shows. Particularly, I would like to mention RSA’s Annual exhibition for which I am so grateful that they have decided to continue with their programme in form of virtual exhibition to support and promote artists.
I find it of vital importance that cultural and artistic programmes have found a way to continue with their work through these times, and bring the uplifting aesthetic experience through the online medium.
The last two questions, Can you think of an established artist who’s due for a critical renaissance? Someone who’s either unfashionable now or not very well known to begin with who you think deserves a second look?
In my view, many artists are being overlooked, but everyone should be embraced for their individual differences, without being subjectively criticised. After all, what is objectiveness of someone’s creative expression? It is either perceptive opinion of one’s taste or opinion set by current trends.
With that being said, I could not pinpoint to one specific artist, as my appreciation goes wider than individual admiration. What I do find the most important is to love and truly enjoy in the process of creating. I believe a work with a ‘soul’ can always be felt and drawn to observers, as well as to the artist who has created it.
And also if you have a guilty pleasure you’d share with us?
I love to go for a hike with my friends and occasionally do something that is part of my tradition; on each conquered peak, we have a sip of rakija (a brandy from Balkans) to celebrate our immaterial success before returning back down into ‘reality’.
More work by Sara Sonas can be found here.
Inteview by Ben Duax, June 2020