Sonia Melnikova-Raich was born and received her education in Moscow, where she earned a Master's degree in architecture at the Moscow Architectural Institute, and has been living in San Francisco since 1987. She exhibits locally and nationally and has been a winner and finalist in many art and photography juried exhibits.


Artistic Statement

I was trained and worked as an artist and architect. Later in life I turned to photography, but schooling in painting and architecture remains present in my work. Rather than treating a photograph as an illusionary window into a three-dimensional world, I approach it as a canvas with its own material presence. Strongly influenced by the art and architecture of Russian Constructivists of the 1920s, I am interested in exploring the abstract in the material world, experimenting with depth of field, obstructed views and flattened perspectives, and in bringing the viewer's attention to the physical surface and inner geometry of the photograph, its pictorial aspects and compositional structure. As to my objects, I look for poetry and mystique in common things. In that respect I feel strong affinity with the Japanese philosophy and aesthetic of wabi-sabi, with its focus on the transient nature of things, preference for muted colors, and reverence for the subtle beauty in old and simple things. I believe that photography is the best medium to express these ideas as each photograph is inherently an image of disappearance, a melancholic connection to the past forever stamped by time. Most of my photographs are a serendipitous discovery rather than being staged or arranged. I have no desire to just record something and lean heavily towards composition and mood of the moment rather than technical excellence. I enjoy the challenge of creating an image of the ordinary and the familiar, but interpreting it in a unique way.

Contact: 415.861.3667 or soniamelnikova at gmail.com

What others say:

“Much of Melnikova-Raich's work consists of a scene blanketed by another layer that partially obscures the background, creating a veiled effect.... Her colors are muted and with an added layer over the scenes, her goal is to turn a three-dimensional scene into a two-dimensional image.” — [Framework]: Sonia Melnikova-Raich on Paintings, by Judy Walgren, Director of Photography, San Francisco Chronicle

“Circular Motion No. 5”, by Sonia Melnikova-Raich, was selected as Gallery Choice. “The dizzying ordinal elapses from a sequence of images which gradually develop in complexity.” — Sharon Drinkard, Curator, for Contemporary Art Gallery Online

“Sonia's works are very unique and the techniques she employs are exquisite. The images are heavy with nostalgia and empathy, the silent shadows or spirits of past people and things. She has a unique way of integrating wonderful foreground textures with solid backgrounds or showing mystical, veiled subjects shrouded with transparent, flowing materials.” — Barbara DeGroot, artist

“Sonia's art seems to float on some poetic altitude of dissolution and phantom images of the past. The images are quite powerful and inventive, both in the overall color field and liquidity, and are quite remarkable in terms of their technique.” — Valery and Rimma Gerlovin, conceptual photography artists

“Melnikova-Raich appreciates the city's foggy summers. Her special brand of photography does not call for sunshine and intricate shadows. Her eye is trained in capturing barely visible or disappearing things — subtle reminders of time passing by, the remnants of our everyday, gradually descending into oblivion.” — Emma Krasov, art critic, blogger

“You have clearly established your own niche in art ... with your own interpretation of reality. You overlaid a Japanese Buddhist concept onto a Jewish sentiment, and they work very well together. The Jewish prayer sounds like a Japanese haiku, and the Japanese concept of wabi sabi sounds like it was invented by Jews almost. I think you are onto some profound confluence of mythologies there.” — Anonymous visitor at “The Elusive Poetry of Wabi Sabi”, San Francisco Zen Center