Sonia Melnikova-Raich was born in Moscow where she earned a Master's degree in architecture at the prestigious Moscow Architectural Institute. Moved to San Francisco in 1987. She exhibits her photography locally and internationally, had several awards and has been a finalist in many juried photography competitions. She had several solo shows and had her works featured in professional photography journals and magazines.


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 approach to camerawork. I am interested in exploring the abstract in the material world and in that regard am strongly influenced by the art of Russian Constructivists of the 1920s, trying to bring the viewer's attention to inner geometry of the photograph, its pictorial aspects and compositional structure. In contrast to my abstract and architectural photography, I also look for poetry and mystique in old things, in both the material and natural worlds. In that respect I feel strong affinity with the Japanese philosophy and aesthetic of wabi sabi, with its preference for muted colors, reverence for the subtle beauty in old and simple objects, and focus on the transient nature of everything around us. 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. I have no desire to just record the surroundings and lean heavily towards composition and mood rather than technical excellence, trying to capture fleeting moments, barely visible, ambiguous or disappearing things.

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