Sonja Rohde - Acrylic & Oil Paintings
Human connection is at the center of my art.

My oil paintings are mainly portraits or people in their environment.

My acrylic paintings follow the same theme of human connection but have another layer added.

I am interested in the relationship between cultures, how contact between cultures leads to change, which I try to explore through the use and juxtaposition of decorative patterns.

Humans from pre-historic times on had the urge to create ornament. Some patterns traveled the world once created and became part of the visual vocabulary of often very dissimilar cultures. Other patterns are found in multiple cultures without a history of exchange – they seem to have an innate symbolism that universally attracts people. Patterns are not just ornament they convey information about a culture, tell stories. Patterns moved around the world before the digital age and became part of the language of cultures that supposedly had little in common.

As patterns travel and are absorbed into different societies their meaning, their power can stay the same or transform as they are absorbed into the ornamental vocabulary of their new hosts.

In this they remind us of culture in general and of people who might either be transformed by a new environment or change their new surroundings.

The viewer’s experience of my acrylic paintings changes depending on how she approaches them. At first glance they are ornate and highly decorative. At second glance they remind us of the universality of the human experience, of our interconnectedness. After that the experience turns personal.
At a time when many of us feel more and more insular and the fear of “the other” grows, my paintings try to remind the viewer to take the time to explore how similar we really are.