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Artist Statement SOPHIA BURNS

The theme of my visual work  is a combination between my diary practice - that I have been doing since 1994 - and my abstract and more formal painting and installation research. Both practices were separate until I decided recently to merge them into painting.

They both have in common my everyday life, from what I see through my line-drawings to what I feel in my abstractions.Retrospectively, I realise that my fascination for the amount of visual information we seem able to ingest and mix to our own perceptions, sensations, preconceptions and projections, is the main idea running through my today practice.

Diaries have always appeared to me, as the best way to trap time and impressions, as unity seems to exist in the movement and flow of the dates, the binding and the opening of the pages. Diaries give shape to the mind's flow. Painting on the other hand seems to give another sense of time it feels deeper and time seems more like a hole in which to fall, there is a sense of depth and halt in the experience of making and looking at a painting.

With the diaries time appears more like a line pointing forward, or to the side or in a spiral, where we can have a walk. Diaries as the drawings, stop me in a place at a certain time, and then force me to sit to "be here and now" for a certain length of time. The drawings become a way to record something of what is seen just then and there. Each time it's like a fresh vision that is offered of what is in front of me.

With my painting, I'd like to give an image that would blend the scattered, the layered and disruptive information all together in one coherent and single whole. In the making, I use several layers of paint overlapping each other, showing as many of them as possible through the game of their visual interaction. As I elaborate each new layer, I avoid setting them in an obvious relationship to one another. I rewrite each time on top of the surface, leaving just enough to see that something else has been there, another painting telling another story. As a deliberate “repentir”, a painting as a palimpseste : making obvious the traces of what was there before.

Painting can achieve a sense of depth from the layers I accumulate before I transpose one of my line drawings. These layered paintings play with the different langages of imagery, from the glazed and out of focus abstract, to the floral patterned image and the rythmic shapes of cells, to the final line drawing. Building slowly the sense of a layered vision. I use different types of techniques throughout each layer, acrylics and inks for splatters and movement, oil and acrylic glazing for transparency, palette knives for texture and finally the drawing in oil or in charcoal for the distinctive cut out of the lines.

As well as working on layers, I experiment with the shapes of my line drawings. While drawing I have the sensation that the image is split into several shapes, the positive and negative space or the bodies and their shadows. I train myself to see an image as the addition of multiple shapes making one single body. It feels as though I'm cutting shapes out of what I see, the lines cutting out the pieces as if it were a giant jigsaw. But then I realise that taken individually each of those shapes can function and is visually interesting to dissect, but when put all together they create an image that becomes a visual narrative, a scene or a landscape etc.

And somehow, these shapes help me to organise the layers underneath, they seem to hold the image together because they represent something. By playing with those shapes and with the more abstract and free painted layers, it feels like I'm offering a scattered but organised vision. The series of collages reinforce the idea of multiple possibilities from the same line drawing. This time as in the paintings, they articulate shapes separately, each containing a different texture or color, and overlapping even more lines and shapes. Collage feels as though I can quickly piece it all together, as though sewing shapes and lines into a new visual proposition. They often serve as a base for new ideas in painting. In the way I display the work I choose more and more to use quadriptyques, triptyques, diptyques or chunky canvas bars (5 or more) to reinforce the idea of another division. One that will include the space of the wall or the room in which the art work is displayed. As well as looking for an interaction with the surrounding space, I'm also reinforcing the idea of scattered visual information, the unity of the painting is compromised by the possibility of exploding the image into several rectangular or square shapes when I set it up.

While painting, my perpetual aim is to contrast the image, to look for the areas of rupture, to make it work despite the odds, as I deliberately create disruptive areas. Challenge of the abstract and of the purity of each new composition, reformulating another visual possibility in the compound of the canvas or out of it in it's display. My outlook on painting could be seen as formal, the content in itself is about the image and what it produces visually, like the chromatic and shape distortion effect it can have on one's perception. There is no real intent to guide the spectator through a special reading, although the subject of the line drawings makes it easier. But in the making, I experience painting as a visual game, an exploratory field where as with sound, I can offer a visual possibility where one experiments a new sense of space, through the uses of shapes, lines and colors. Sophia Burns

Selected Group and Solo Exhibitions SOPHIA BURNS

Solo Shows

2011 - Scotland - painting and drawings – Espace Doun – Rognes – France
2009 - Roofs of Tangier - painting and drawings – Espace Doun – Rognes – France
2009 - My red dolls – installation and drawings – Theâtre de la Vista – Montpellier - France
2008 -  “Au fil du Vin” – Abstract painting : a color experience - France
2007 -  Coopérative Octon –From abstract to the Salagou landscape -Hérault - France
2005 - Auberge de la Vallée du Salagou – Painting seeds - Salasc – France
1996 - “Islande, 45 Jours, 41 Fenêtres " - Espace Pyramide - Rognes – France (drawings)

Group Shows

2013 - Manchester Buy Art Fair/SiOTT
2014 - Can You See What I See?/ SiOTT@ Norden Farm Gallery
2013 - Elusive/Siott @ Riverside Studio Gallery
2012 - Reading Contemporary Art Fair/ SiOTT
2012 - Windsor Contemporary Art Fair/SiOTT
2010 - Mac Paris - Espace Champerret- Paris
2010 - Islington Art Fair - Candid Art Galleries - London
2011 - Galerie 7'L - Le Pouliguen - France
2010 - Launch Exhibition - Out of the Blue – Edinburgh - UK
2010 - Paroles de Salagou – Visual and sound installation - Lodève - France
2008 - Portraits crachés – Village des arts – Octon – France (drawing)
2008 - l'Art en Cours – festival Voix de la Méditerranée - Lodève, France (paintings and drawings)
2007 - l'Art en Cours – festival Voix de la Méditerranée - Lodève, France (paintings and drawings)
2006 -  “Jardin Intérieur” - Lodève – France (paintings)
2006 -  l'Art en Cours – festival Voix de la Méditerranée - Lodève, France (installation-paintings)
2001 - Espace Doun – Rognes (13) – France (paintings)
2000 -  Galerie dans le Ciel – Mougins (06) – France (paintings)
1998 -  "Les Enfants des Bonfils" - V.A.C. - France (catalogue) (installation)
1998 -  "Culture & Entreprise" - Ecole d'Art d'Aix en Provence (catalogue) (installation)
1998 -  "l'Art Dégénéré" - Fondation Vasarély - Aix en Provence (catalogue) (installation)
1998 -  Espace Sextius - Aix en Provence – France (catalogue) (drawings)
1998 -  Gallery Aphantaly - La Tour d'Aigues, France (installation)
1997 - Gallery Alpha Jetzt - Stuttgart – Germany (installation)
1994 -  Salle de l'Aigalier - Martigues - France (catalogue) (installation work, drawings)

 

Artist Residencies

2007 – Tangier Morocco – Editions P’tits Papiers
1995 - Kjarvalsstadir Museum in Reykjavik - Iceland (2 months)
1994 - Institut Sourikov in Moscow - Russia (2 months)

 

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