Sonia Melnikova-RaichSan Francisco, CA
I was trained as an artist and architect. Later in life I discovered photography but my original training remains present in my works, some of which resemble painted or drawn media. I am often struggling with the contradiction between a photograph as a “window” into a three-dimensional world and its own concrete material presence; between the flatness of the photograph and the lifelike illusion of depth of the image. By emphasizing geometry and texture of the plane and deemphasizing three-dimensionality of the form I am trying to bring the viewer’s attention to the physical surface of the photograph, its tangible qualities, pictorial aspects, and composition. As to my objects, I look for grace, poetry and mystique in the most common of things. In that respect I feel strong affinity with the Japanese philosophy and aesthetics of wabi sabi, with its focus on the transient nature of things, acceptance of their impermanence, and reverence for the beauty in old things with all imperfections that occur with age, such as scratches, patina, or rust. It accepts the natural cycle of growth, decay, and demise, and cherishes the fleeting nature of beauty in the physical world that reflects the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. I try to capture fleeting moments, barely visible, ambiguous or disappearing things, subtle reminders of time passing by, the remnants of our everyday gradually descending into oblivion.
I was born and trained as an architect and artist in Moscow – first at the Moscow State Art School at the Academy of Art of the USSR and then at the Moscow State Architectural Institute – and have been living in San Francisco since 1987. Later in life I discovered photography and have been working and exhibiting in this medium since 2002. I exhibit locally and nationally and have been a finalist in more than forty local, national, and international juried exhibits of art and photography. In 2009 my diptych "The First and the Last" received an award at "Glimpses in Time," international photography exhibit juried by Rene de Guzman, Senior Curator of Art, Oakland Museum of California. The same year I had a solo exhibit "From Abstract Reality to Real Abstraction" at the Bank of America Building in San Francisco and two of my works were acquired by the City of Lafayette Art Collection, now on permanent view at the new Lafayette Public Library, and were featured in Diffusion: Magazine of Unconventional Photography. In 2011 I have been among the finalists in “Shattered,” a national exhibition at MarinMOCA juried by Kenneth Baker, Art Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, and had a solo exhibit “Elusive Poetry of Wabi Sabi” at San Francisco Zen Center.