Sonya Yu’s quiet yet vibrant photographs capture the beauty of mundane objects, breathing life into classic still lifes. Commonplace fruits and flowers take on an exotic allure, while metals, ceramics and glass assume a richly tactile and enthralling quality. Blocks of creamy cheese, torn chunks of bread, hot beverages, abundant glasses of wine and even seafood on ice, create vividly delectable compositions that are at once captivating and enchanting. A stark, grey backdrop and mottled white table frame each still life, foregrounding the dynamism of each item pictured.
Heavily influenced by Dutch master painter Johannes Vermeer, Yu seeks to create works that blur the lines between photography and painting. Her creative process is anchored in the strict exercise of analog photographic techniques and the meticulous use of natural light. In fact, the artist’s studio is set up to recreate the self-same, unique conditions the 17th century painter worked under. Yu’s conscious and methodical practice eschews technology to achieve a highly distinctive visual style, one that artfully combine contrasting textures with harmonious colors palettes. The luxuriant verve of her works is derived both from their meticulously laid configuration, as well as a tangible and deliberate femininity.
For Yu, the goal is to elicit an active, experiential understanding of her work. By taking photographs whose very purpose calls into question representations of reality, she opens a contemplative space that invites a “retreat from today’s culture of instant gratification and instills an impetus to immerse oneself in a more intentional and bucolic process.”