There’s a dreamlike, allegorical quality to Canadian artist Sonia Roy’s work: vintage portraits are cast into enigmatic landscapes, and watched over by birds and foxes. They are highly evocative: hinting at emotionally charged, half-forgotten tales.
“Each of my pieces start with the characters. They are the narrators of my stories,” she explains. “Their expression and pose are very important to me.” In her images, 1950s pin-up girls beam coquettishly, and Edwardian children solemnly gaze on, surrounded by strange industrial landscapes and twisting branches.
Exploring the long-ago is key to Sonia’s work. “As far as I can remember, I’ve always been attracted by vintage images and objects. The retro-style is essential. It defines me deeply,” she says. “Collage is a natural technique for me: it’s the result of my past experiences, my influences and what I am. I like the surrealist aspect of collage, and the combination of disparate elements that tell a story together. I like the idea of recycling old images to create new ones.”
Deeply influenced by the Dadaist and Surrealist movements, she often underscores these influences by using early 20th century artwork as source materials, often colouring certain elements of them with jewel-bright colours while leaving other areas in their original monochrome. She juxtaposes vintage images and soft textures with crisp graphic elements and sharp edges that give a hyperreal and indisputably contemporary twist.
“Clients have told me they found my work very modern, even though I use images from the past,” she says.