Victor Sonna (b. 1977) is a visual artist born in Yaoundé, Cameroon. He graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven and St. Joost School of Art & Design in 2008 and now lives and works in the Netherlands.
My artistic practice is formed and informed by my genealogy. Negotiating between Cameroon and the Netherlands means I am always occupied with the struggle of holding onto my African roots on one hand, and integrating into my European home on the other. The experience of being in-between cultures is alive in my work, which is often born from tensions arising between cultures and styles, resulting in artworks that de-familiarise and test the boundaries.
My work ranges from sculptures to paintings and from metal to textile based pieces. The creative process is often characterised by an assemblage technique, whereby a range of everyday materials and objects (scrap metal, wood, fabric, kitchen utensils and guns, for example) are re-used and given new life. Disparate materials are transformed into unique and dynamic pieces with new meaning and significance. This approach has its origins in my childhood in Cameroon, where the scarcity of money and resources meant that I had to make do and re-use what lay around me.
Recent exhibitions include Victor Sonna 1525, where 152 works of art representing my personal artistic reflection on the horrors of colonialism and slavery were displayed in a 25-metre high scaffolding installation at the Van Abbemuseum. The accompanying publication Victor Sonna 152 documents this exhibition and contains an extensive essay on my work by curator Steven ten Thije. My work has also been shown at Dutch Design Week and Deutsches Museum in recent years, and is part of private and public collections internationally.
PRESS & PUBLICATIONS
‘International News: The Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands Explores the Legacies ofColonialism in a Solo Exhibition by Victor Sonna.’ Ilaria Obata, CAA News Today, 8 January
‘Victor Sonna, 1525.’ Laura van den Bergh, Metropolis M, No. 1, 2021.
‘Victor Sonna at Van Abbemuseum.’ Fabio Fabris, Juliet Art Magazine, 11 October 2021.
2020‘Victor Sonna: 152.’ Steven ten Thije, Charles Esche, Victor Sonna. Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, 2020. Winner ‘Best Dutch Book Designs 2020’.‘Victor Sonna’s Tower of Babel Brings Europe and Africa Together.’ Hans den Hartog Jager, De Gids, 19 November 2020.‘You can only really see if you look together.’ Harmen van Dijk, Trouw, 18 July 2020.‘Beyond the Shackles.’ Rob Schoonen, Eindhovens Dagblad, 18 July 2020.‘Victor Sonna gives his vision on the history of slavery in a daring exhibition that is full of metaphors.’ Sarah van Binsbergen, De Volkskrant, 14 August 2020.‘Impressive art project by Victor Sonna in Van Abbe about the history of slavery.’ Irma van Bommel, Brabant Cultureel, 6 August 2020.‘The Shoulders of Victor Sonna.’ Sjoerd Aarden, VPRO Mondo, 19 August 2020.‘Victor Sonna: 1525.’ Afrikanah.org, 6 July 2020.
Nooit Meer Slapen VPRO: Victor Sonna. 22 juli 2020.
FRAME-Design's new intimacy, Oct 2020
2017‘Anatomy of Identity.’ Art Maze, 2017.
2016 General overview of work and interview. Bewustzijnskunstenaars part II, 2016.General overview of work. Afrikanah.org, 22 July 2016.
2015 ‘An Interview with Victor Sonna.’ Art Habens Contemporary Art Review, Summer 2015, pp. 115 - 133.‘Victor Sonna merges symbolic objects to give them new meanings + functions.’ Designboom, 19 October 2015.
Guernica, Future Nostalgia. Willkommen in Anthropozän, 2014Ipsum, Designboom, 2014Smaakmakers, Volkskrant Magazine, 2014Future Nostalgia, New York Magazine, 2013Future Nostalgia, Designboom, 2012Rising, (several works), Eindhoven Contemporary Art, 2012Miracle, Catalogus ‘Green Today’, Rai Elicium, Amsterdam,Care Justitia, Mantelzorg, wikken en wegen. Op weg naar een Care Justitia, Delft, Eburon, 2011Attribute of Tomorrow, Catalogue ‘Anonymously Chosen’ , Municipal Museum, The Hague, 20115 works from the series: Care and Being. Kamer 7, Delft: Eburon, 20116 works from the series ‘Dislocation’.Ik zie ikzie wat jij niet ziet. Delft: Eburon, 2010 12 works of art: Art4Care. Art4Care, Provincial House Den Ben Bosch, 2009TheArenaof Care:Familycareandcarerespoonsiblity:Theartofmeeringeachother.Delft:Eburon, 2007The Art of meeting eachother: research, education, practice in family care, Delft, Eburon, 2007Care and relationships: Metaforum, wetenschappelijk tijdschrift van de GGzMB & GGze. Themanummer Kunst & Psychiatrie, 6, 77-90, 2006Reflection. Lustrumboek. Filmsalon De Ontmoeting. Peace of Art Foundation, Tilburg, 2006 curriculum vitae