The Most Complete Art

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Book, Hand Drawing, Line Drawing

The Most Complete Art

Alina Sonea

Projects

”My work so far was an architectural and geometrical investigation of the things that I saw or felt and a way of bringing them to an essential representation through the use of black lines on paper. The “Historical City”  is a catalog of buildings that tries to summarize the history of architecture. The “Layered City”  is a section through a fantastical city, where layers of built environment are constructed over each other to create an interesting new density. As nature is lying new sheets of dead matter to create mountains or earth, we humans lay deposits of built sheets as a statement of our existing. We walk upon bones of our ancestors, we build homes over ancient sites, we constantly renew our built environment, laying new sheets of collective memory.”

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Historical City

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The Layered City

”“Density” visualizes the endless floor-plan of a city so dense, that it does not permit its buildings to own facades. Constructions are so compactly attached to one another, that they create a labyrinth, an endless building. No inhabitant of this fantastic city would know what exists on the other side of their wall. It can be a cemetery, a church, a school or football field. Natural light is a luxury that not everyone can afford. One may believe that this image of a city is a fantastic, even apocalyptical view. But have you ever seen the satellite picture of a slum in Cairo, or parts of cities like New Delhi? ”

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Density

”The “Walk of life”  is life itself reduced to the essential path defining our path from birth to death.”

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Walk of life

 Paradox and Metaphor

“Paradox and Metaphor” is a study on the work of the architects Aldo Rossi and O.M. Ungers. The book is an analysis of their practical and theoretical works, an extraction of the essential characteristics of their philosophies and it led to the creation of an Architectural Design Manual based on the discoveries.  Finally, the book is a declaration for the artistic value of architecture. The analysis points out the paradoxes and metaphors discovered in their theories and attributed to their will to forget or rather to dissolve architecture in the last decade of their lives. The book compares their work with ones of poets, having general themes, leitmotifs and stylistic methods of expression, like the metaphor, oxymoron, antithesis, comparison, or the epithet. ‘The reflections brought me to the realization that architecture is the most complete art of all.’

Interview

Who influences you graphically?

It`s difficult to point out specific artists or architects that are a permanent inspiration, because my interests change constantly. I need diversity and contrast in order to achieve clear ideas. But I do keep falling in love with Japanese Art and Architecture or with the intriguing works of M.C. Escher or René Magritte.

Also, what brought me to start drawing were the sketches and paintings of Aldo Rossi and Zaha Hadid, whom I respect for finding balance in between their artistic and architectural works.

How does your architecture and art work interlace? To what extent does one influence and effect the other?

Architecture and art form a symbiosis in my work. One cannot exist without the other.

Being multidisciplinary is for me the key to being creative. While joggling with different jobs or fields of interest, you constantly need to break the borders that separate them. In this process, new ideas arise.

I am fascinated by the complexity of simple things. In my artistic and architectural explorations, I constantly find joy in seeking this complexity and analyzing it. In a simple black line, I see the infinity of points creating it. In a leaf of a tree I see the wonderful structure resembling the street network of a city. By looking at a wall, I see a boundary, I think about its shape in a floor plan and wonder what it exactly separates. And then I think about what would happen if we would cut out a window into that wall…

6 ArchiTEXTURE Renaissance – 18x24cm Fineliner on paper

ArchiTEXTURE Renaissance

But the two most important elements connecting my work as an architect and artist are black lines and contrasts.

  1. The Line

A line is for me the most elementary element of human expression. It is our quest for perfection that brought us to its creation. In its root, it is a symbol of infinity and nothing man-made can exist without it. No letter, number, architectural plan or visual symbol can be born in its absence.

A perfectly straight line does not exist in nature. Even the horizon that divides the sea from the sky is an optical illusion for the human line, as in reality this line is curved on the shape of the globe. We, humans, “invented” it. It is an abstraction of an ideal. With the use of a line, we manage to bring everything to an essential. The whole Christian Religion can be reduced to the pure symbol of two lines intersected in a perfect, straight angle that we call a cross. We use a zig-zagged line to visualize the beating of our heart. It is the most universal mean of communication.

8 Feldkirch, Austria. A tribute to the city`s 800 Year Anniversary – 50x70cm Fineliner on paper

Feldkirch

  1. The contrast

The most elementary things representing our life can only be defined in contrast with each other. Black is defined by being the opposite of white, darkness is the absence of light, there is no good without the bad.. you can`t die without being alive.

The simple black line is only visible through its contrast with a lighter background. But we sometimes forget to see the big white space around the line. It is these contrasts that fascinate me and that have become a leitmotif of my work.

This exploration is also what gave birth to the project “Lifelines”: www.our-lifelines.com It`s about making people realize that with every movement that they make on the world map, they unconsciously draw an art work. Everyone is an artist, painting on the biggest canvas that we have on our disposal: the world. I offer to draw these Lifelines and to transform them in personalized works of art.

What is you work process when developing an art piece? Is there a preliminary moment of research?

Yes, I invest plenty of time in research. Depending on the complexity of the idea, I find myself spending days on documenting what I will draw. But I never have a clear idea about how the work will look like at the end. I like to leave many things to chance or spontaneous development. That`s also why I rarely know when a work will be finished. I sometimes spend several months on the more complex drawings. I find myself taking breaks from my works and returning to them with a fresh and more objective mind.

7 ArchiTEXTURE The Antique World – 18x24cm Fineliner on paper

ArchiTEXTURE The Antique World

How do you approach the drawing when working on an architectural project? Is this a sight for exploration? 

Yes, definitely. I find sketching and hand-made perspectives, plans and diagrams very important in the development of a project.  And that`s why I am very grateful that I work in an environment that allows me to go through this exploration phase. I like to experiment with different drawing or painting techniques, according to the project type and to its planning stage. Unlike my artistic works, the initial architectural drawings are colorful explorations in crayon, markers or watercolor.

I believe that computer renderings and technical drawings damage the design process at its initial stages. The clients are presented with “finished” projects, instead of concepts and ideas that are “work in progress”. This often means skipping important development phases and avoid asking critical questions. While seeing realistically rendered projects, clients often relate their critique and questions to elements of detail instead of questioning basic decisions connected to form or function.

 

What prompted the graphic book ‘The monologic architecture of Aldo Rossi and O.M. Ungers”? what was the purpose of the book?

“Paradox and Metaphor” or “The monologic architecture of Aldo Rossi and O.M. Ungers” was a research work that I developed at the University of Liechtenstein in 2011. It was initially part of the common semester project, in which each student received an unfinished project designed by a relevant architect and had to develop it further or to transform it into something completely new. I was assigned with Aldo Rossi`s Project for the Karlsruhe Library from 1979. It was a competition submission that he didn`t win. The winner of the competition was O.M. Ungers.

 “Paradox and Metaphor” is a study on the work of the architects Aldo Rossi and O.M. Ungers. The book is an analysis of their practical and theoretical works, an extraction of the essential characteristics of their philosophies and it led to the creation of an Architectural Design Manual based on the discoveries.  Finally, the book is a declaration for the artistic value of architecture. The analysis points out the paradoxes and metaphors discovered in their theories and attributed to their will to forget or rather to dissolve architecture in the last decade of their lives. The book compares their work with ones of poets, having general themes, leitmotifs and stylistic methods of expression, like the metaphor, oxymoron, antithesis, comparison, or the epithet. ‘The reflections brought me to the realization that architecture is the most complete art of all.’

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After analyzing the two projects, I became fascinated by the many similarities that the two architects share and was intrigued by the things that drew them apart. In my imagination, their life`s theoretical works became pieces of a puzzle that I wanted to complete. Put together, these pieces created an Architectural Design Manual that had the intention of guiding the reader through the process of designing. The book became an “apparatus” for understanding architecture through the eyes of Aldo Rossi and O. M. Ungers.

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The journey starts with understanding the building site and its genius loci and continues with comprehending its role in the city. It then intends to define the role of the collective memory. The next steps include discussions about the meaning of form and the importance of function, about the the logic of contradictions and deformations and ends with acknowledging the realism, as well as the surrealism of architectural objects.

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The last chapter gathers my reflections about what happens in the transition between architecture and art.

The book describes the story of my theoretical analysis in an interactive way. By using a laser cutting technique, a three-dimensional effect was added to the images and plans represented in the book. My intention was not only to create an architectural design manual that functions as an “apparatus” for designing, but also to create a book that functions as an “apparatus” for storytelling.

Paradox and Metaphor - Alina Sonea

About

Alina Sonea was born in 1986 in Romania. She began her studies in Architecture at the University of Architecture and Urban Planning in Bucharest and continued her master`s in Architectural Design Theory at the University of Liechtenstein. Since her graduation in 2012, she actively works as an architect and independent artist and illustrator in Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Austria and will be soon teaching creativity at the School of Design in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

www.alinasonea.com

The “Lifelines” Art Project: www.our-lifelines.com

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