Sonia Bensouda is a French artist based in London who grew up in Morocco. She received her BA in Interior Architecture in Lyon, France, and moved to London in 2014 to study for a Master's degree in Interior and Spatial Design at UAL - Chelsea College of Art.
She continues to work as an interior architect and independent artist in the city.
"Growing up in the vibrant surroundings of Morocco has influenced my creative approach. Researching color combinations and developing palettes is a significant part of my process. My background as an interior architect has shaped my passion for abstract geometry and composition. My goal is to combine these elements into a graphic visual language that is universally understandable.
I’m inspired by the philosopher Michel Foucault’s notion of ‘Heterotopia’ or ‘in-between spaces’. My intent through my collages is to playfully explore our relationship with real and virtual spaces. The simultaneous occupation of spaces, physically and mentally. Hence, two states of being. A conceptual combination of architectural, sturdy surroundings and dream-like, surreal aesthetics."
Q. Tell us about yourself and how you became an artist...
I’m sure most of creatives reply the same way but growing up I’ve always been attracted to art and design in general. However, I started to properly develop my collages four years ago as visual support for my thesis in university. Since then, I just couldn’t stop!
Q. Describe your work in three words...
Architectural. Hyperreal. Geometric.
Q. What does your creative process look like?
I usually start with photography. Travelling and wandering is probably the most important part of my process as my work is mostly photographic. Whenever I’m in a new city or town, I try to find an architectural or color composition that inspires me. These kinds of photos will often become the foundation of my collage work.
Weeks later, I’ll revisit the photos and experiment with different geometrical and color compositions. This process is a bit more instinctive and emotional; I will usually tweak the composition until I feel a sense of balance and satisfaction.
As my medium is digital collage, I occasionally browse a copyright-free photography website. Sometimes I’ll find something visually interesting, like a portrait or photo, that complements my personal photography and completes the collage.
Q. What influences do modern cultures have on your work?
I would say modern and contemporary architecture movements influence my work to some degree, but it’s a difficult question. Even though my work is contemporary, most of my inspiration actually comes from 20th-century painters.
Q. Where do you draw inspiration from?
For the core of my work, I mostly take inspiration from architecture and built urban environments. Especially in London, there are beautiful juxtapositions happening all over the city. These kinds of contrasts are beautiful. Growing up as a mixed kid and belonging to two cultures made me think about and appreciate contrast. Collage is the perfect medium to express it, in that it involves combining and juxtaposing images that aren’t necessarily supposed to be together aesthetically.
Also, I always find myself looking at the 20th painters’ ways of using different color combinations or geometrical compositions. Some of my favorites are Magritte, De Chirico, László Moholy-Nagy, and Ivan Klioune.
Q. Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?
Silence! I usually prefer it when I need to focus. When possible, I love to work with the window open to have the sounds of the city as background noise. I listen to music more when I walk in order to unwind and let my mind wander.
Q. What messages or emotions do you hope to convey to your audience?
I always like to work on the idea of in-between space, being physically present in one space but mentally elsewhere. This is this surreal state of day-dreaming that I’m trying to represent on my collages. I hope people can find a sense of escapism by looking at it.
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