With a skein of iron wire and a few spools of cotton thread, Franca Sonnino sets out to rebuild the world. Its microcosm is defined by a subtle, continuous, sometimes subdued sign, always intended to capture the deep essence of reality, not the contingent fact, the intimate substance of the structure, not the changing appearance of the superstructure. With the result that the sign’s landscapes, its ‘still life’s, its mosaics draw on a condition of immateriality, of precariousness, which if on the one hand suggests a feeling of lightness, on the other hand reveals a proven aptitude to penetrate beyond the skin of the experience in order to get hold of the core of it. Thus, using a sign dried to the point of the unbelievable, Sonnino incredibly becomes a sculptor, shaping the void, besieging the space with a dense network of tensions, within which one can imagine the accumulation of sensations that originated it. Destructuring the real to see it again in a different form, poetically motivated but at the same time plausible, removing consistency from the prosaic nature of things and nevertheless proposing them again in a credible form. This is the work of the artist, and the play of shadows that his forms undertake constitute the irrefutable litmus test of their existence, the sure sign of the immanence of poetry beyond disbelief, the certification of his obstinate will to be beyond the everyday and the ephemeral. If in the past the link with reality, albeit reduced to the bone and extolled for a long time, was read fairly easily, today instead emerges in the series of “mosaics”, an even more marked tension to abstraction, to the adoption of regular modules, of forms geometric, of an articulated syntax but based on seriality. It is not an escape towards the irrational; it is not the abdication from communion with the things of the world, but only a change due to the tools with which the artist looks at them. It is as if he had brought his eye closer to the lens of the microscope, in order to enjoy the perfect harmony, but by no means artificial, inherent in the structure of a crystal or in the spider’s web. (Lia De Venere).
Franca Coen Sonnino was born in Rome in 1932. After studying literature she began her artistic career in the early 70s, dedicating herself to painting under the guidance of Maria Lai. Since 1972 she has exhibited regularly in galleries and museums. In February 2019 the Textile Museum of Busto Arsizio dedicated the exhibition “Maria Lai and Franca Sonnino Masterpieces of Italian Fiber Art” to her and Maria Lai. Since 2019 she has been represented by Repetto Gallery in London and is present in major international art fairs.