paradox ethereal magazine issue 09 -07

Art Nouveau and Symbolism

Painter, Italy

“The etching technique suits perfectly the irremissibly exigency of absolute bi-dimensionality, of evocative spaces and pure sharp outlines to reach a complete abstraction, to have a sort of “frozen-figure” existing only in a parallel universe”.

Mary Vareli: Sonia, you were born in Florence and studied in the Florence Academy of Fine Arts, before your master in at international School of Graphic Arts the same city, how has Florence with its rich history in art has influenced your choice?

Sonia De Franceshi: Actually not so much. I have been drawing since I was three years old, so it was only natural for me to study art in the Academy of Fine Arts.

Tell us a few things about yourself and your creative nature. What inspires you?

My artwork is inspired by Celtic mythology, gothic music and literature, art nouveau and symbolism.

Can you comment on the printmaking technique you use?

Of course! First of all we draw on top of a zinc plate, previously covered with a thin layer of varnish, with a needle. Secondly, we put the plate in nitric acid for 20-30 minutes. Thirdly, we remove the varnish and we gently apply special ink to the zinc plate, and then clean the surface just to leave the ink in the design. At the end of this process we print the image on a wet paper in a printing press.

Is the technique time-consuming or dangerous?

It’s not dangerous but you have to manage the acid with special care. This technique is very time consuming. It can actually take many months to finish the design on the zinc plate.

How would you characterize your style?

My style is characterized by imaginary figures, different scenes invented by me and inspired by art nouveau and Pre-Raphaelites paintings.

Favorite material?

In this period of my life, I’m using a lot oil painting. I use it with a palette knife, very spontaneously to achieve natural movements

What is the role 19th century artists, and especially the Pre-Raphaelites and other Symbolists, played on your art?

A very important one, I love everything that has to do with 19th century. Not only art, but also lifestyle. I’m also very fond of the literature too.

The Celtic themes also prevail, right?

Yes, above all in my very first works.

You are the type of artist that seems t have experienced the topics reproduced. Do you travel a lot? Where? What did you”bring’’ back?

In some ways my art is an autobiography. The main subject is always a woman that resembles me; also, I travel a lot and those travels are very important for me, to get inspiration and use it in my artworks.

Since 2003 your etchings are not anymore inspired by Celtic mythology, or literary references. Have you created your personal artistic universe?

I hope so; at the beginning my inspiration was mainly gothic music, now I’m creating figures from my own ideas, imagination and thoughts that are deeply inspired by photography and literature

You mention something that quite impressed me, can you explain it more for our readers?

“The etching technique suits perfectly the irremissibly exigency of absolute bi-dimensionality, of evocative spaces and pure sharp outlines to reach a complete abstraction, to have a sort of “frozen-figure” existing only in a parallel universe”.

I still think that the “frozen figure” exists, but because we, as human beings evolve and change, I would have to say that, that figure has evolved in this parallel universe and now is full of color and rich paint; the color is thick and dramatic.

You also teach drawing and painting. What ways do you use to infuse your students with the love for art?

Regarding drawing and painting I do believe in the freedom of choice, this is why I let them choose their subjects and I guide them into their own personal projects and ideas in order to achieve the techniques that would suit them the most.

You are a prolific artist with many publications; what is the secret of your productivity? 

I’m very strict with myself. I’m constantly working on my etchings and paintings; for me, is not only what I do but who I am.

Favorite painters?

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Gustav Klimt. Regarding graphic arts Aubrey Beardsley.

Favorite authors  and directors?

In literature: Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Huysmans, James and Foster, and in Films surely Venders, specially Wings of desire (by far my favorite movie).

What is the role that music plays in your work?

A very important one, I love and always take inspiration from Gothic music.

How do you spend your free time?

Drawing and painting actually…Hahaha!

Any advice for young artists that would like to follow your steps?

Be confident in what you do and above all… work very hard.


mail: [email protected]

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