Sonia Brandes, f. 1946
Form of artistic expression: Paper Cuttings (Psaligraphy)
- About the art of papercutting
When I was a child living on the island of Ærø, I cut the traditional “guess who sent this” greetings before Easter.
I was part of a local community where the seasons and the various celebrations throughout the year had vital importance – (it was before television-era). .
We looked forward eagerly to those events. They helped make life worth living. We had so few experiences, that the few there were, shined and glowed that much more. I liked the time close to Easter the best of all because that was when one made these paper cut greetings. The magic it was to fold the paper many times and cut patterns, which then repeated itself when you opened the paper, was indescribable.
The paper cut greetings got me started practicing the folk art that paper cutting is, and I had such a love of the technique, that when I later became a practicing artist, paper cutting became my form of expression.
In the folk art one usually took a piece of paper, folded it one or more times, cut through the several layers, opened it, and then one had cut something out that repeated itself and was symmetrical. This symmetry and repetition creates a pattern effect that has especially fascinated me in paper cuttings. Patterns have a stimulating effect on fantasy. One can fantasize over a pattern, begin at one end of the motive, run through the whole pattern and come back to the starting point, or one can choose any place in the middle and move out from there. Because the cutting is like an arabesque that bites itself in its tail, the movement goes on endlessly. One is never stopped, everything stands open. This is for me the strength of the pattern. It does not shut off thoughts, but one can add content to it herself.
My paper cuttings are a connected whole, which one can hold up from each corner. This demands that there are some points and strings to connect the network that the paper cutting makes, and these points and strings become a challenge to use in ones pictorial expression. These same points and strings contribute also to creating the arabesque-like pattern. Sometimes I do not use the technique of folding; it depends on the character of the work, whether or not it is used.
In France they called cutting in paper ” L´Art des Pauvres” ( the poor people´s art form) because if one had a scissors, one could cut in what was already at hand, f. ex, packing paper, wallpaper, newspaper, etc. In that regard I have moved away from folk art, in that I use acid-free paper, light resistant (lysægte???) colors and very expensive scissors. But otherwise I still feel myself related to my childhoods Easter greetings. Thus I have worked year after year with developing and trying to give my expression to the folk art I began with as a child.
Selection of some of the latest exhibitions:
1976 Southern Jutland´s Art Museum
1977 Kunstnernes egen Kunsthandel, Copenhagen
1979 Ecole de Beaux-Arts de Lille, France
1981 International Youth Library, Munich, Germany
1984 Himmerland´s Art Museum
1985 Danish Cultural Institute, Vienna, Austria
1987 Danish Cultural Institute, Edinburgh
1988 Andersen, Hiroshima, Japan
1990 The Jens Nielsen and Olivia Holm-Møller Museum, Denmark
1991 Funen Art Museum
1991 Kiev Art Museum, Ukraine
1991 Natural History Museum, Århus
1992 Tivoli, Copenhagen
1993 Karen Blixen Museum, Rungstedlund
1995 Museum Holmen, Løgumkloster
1996 Southern Jutland´s Art Museum
1998 Sophienholm, Copenhagen
1998 Art Centre Silkeborg Bad, Silkeborg
2000 Sct. Canute´s Abbey, Odense
2003 The Karen Blixen Museum, Rungstedlund
2006 Museum Holmen, Løgumkloster
2006 Tårnborg, Ribe
2008 Tobaksgården, Assens
2010 World Exhibition in Shanghai, with Odense commune
2011 Arts Center Silkeborg Bad
2012 Ærø Museum, Søbygård
2012 Gallery Weber, Svendborg
2012 Munkeruphus, Dronningemølle
2014 Ebeltoft Art Association
2016 Dalarnas Museum
2017 Johannes Larsen Museum
2019 SAK, Svendborg
Udsmykningsopgaver udført til:
Munkebjerg School Library
IC-3 tog Liden Kirsten
Copenhagens word blind school
Max Planck Institut, Rostock, Tyskland
Sonia Brandes´ paper cuttings have also been used for the following purposes:
Scenography, chasubles, ex libris, logos, giftwrap, Christmas decorations, posters (including Tivoli´s poster, Copenhagen 1992, and a poster for Churches Councils in Denmark 2000), industrial design.
Fyns Art Museum, Holstebro Art Museum, Southern Jutland´s Art Museum, Hans Christian Andersen´s House, Himmerlands Art Museum, Museum Holmen, Løgumkloster, Karen Blixen Museum Rungstedlund, New Carlsberg Fund, Andersen Hiroshima ,Japan, Tønder Museum, Sophienholm.
Prices and grants:
H.C. Andersen Prize 2003
National Art Fund Work Grant 1977 and 1981