The foreign artists painting the picture of the Grand Duchy
As Luxembourg’s annual Art Week approaches, we meet four foreign female artists who have made the country their home.
Each bring a unique style and perspective, use different media, and have found inspiration in the Grand Duchy or from their home countries. They also talk about the challenges of exhibiting and selling artwork.
Dutch artist Sonja Soyer is well-known amongst the Luxembourg expat community, not least for the art classes she runs for children, teens and adults. Brought up in Germany, she moved to Luxembourg in 1996 after finishing her degree in Fine Arts, History, Educational Sciences and Psychology.
“As an artist I am constantly searching for a new means of expression that also include conceptual works, yet I’m feeling passionate when I can work with acrylics and drawing materials on paper and cardboard, using colour and composition to express my perception of the world,” says Soyer, who likes to open her eyes to themes and objects that the viewer seems to know but probably has never seen like this before.
During the pandemic, Soyer started to work with monoprints, and a selection are on display at the By Jérémy market and hair spa at 4, Avenue de la Liberté, until the end of the year.
The exhibition, entitled Women’s worlds & images, reflects on the inner and outer worlds of women, on their self-image and their reflection by society. Soyer’s technique resembles collage as the prints are assembled with different layers of materials and photos, printed with acrylic paint from a gel plate. Each one is unique.
“Life is not linear,” Sonya says, quoting the author and advisor on education in the arts, Sir Ken Robinson. Following employment at the European institutions and in life insurance, Soyer gave birth to her son, and found she had come full circle after deciding on a career change to teach art classes.
“I help people to express themselves, train their creative reactions and to create freely,” she explains, adding that she works with businesses too.
Sonja has exhibited both solo and at group exhibitions in Luxembourg and Germany since the 1990s, including at the MUDAM and Neimënster Abbey, although she says that finding an affordable studio space is a challenge in Luxembourg.
You can find out more about Sonja Soyer here.
In her early 40s, Turkish artist Burcu Uzun moved to Luxembourg in June 2019, leaving behind her home in Izmir by the “beautiful Aegean Sea”.
A specialist in oil painting, her passion is for the colours of life. She started studying oil painting with her art teacher at the age of just 10, but ended up studying chemical engineering at university. However, after university she began to paint professionally.
“As long as I can remember, colours have been my dreams of hope, love, and joy. I have cherished all forms of art, which have given meaning to my life,” she says, adding: “Since then the passion of my soul has been flowing into my paintings. Nature, life itself, and its colours, are my main source of inspiration.”
Uzun has not yet exhibited in Luxembourg, but her art has been included in several solo and group exhibitions in Turkey. She arrived in Luxembourg six months before the start of the pandemic, but plans to share her paintings at a group exhibition in 2023. She also recently started to run oil painting classes at Sonja Soyer's workshop.
Luxembourg has been a source of inspiration for the Turkish artist. “Being an artist in such a picturesque and artistic country is my chance […] and I will continue to enjoy my journey for the passion of colours,” says Uzun.
You can find out more about Burcu Uzun here.
Artist, architect and visionary journalist, Shafiepoor can no longer live in her native Iran. “The Iranian youth to which I belong seeks civic courage, to give glory to this culture which has contributed so much to the cultural treasures of the world,” she says.
Shafiepoor left her homeland three years ago and came to Luxembourg. Her paintings are about Iranian women and “subjects that I was not allowed to write about in my country.” She started painting when she was hospitalised in Luxembourg due to severe depression.
Shafiepoor uses mixed techniques and conventional art to create a contemporary art style which she tries to project beyond ancient Persian mythology.
A member of the European Academy of Art group, she has featured in more than 10 exhibitions in Luxembourg and France, including one at the Ancien Cinema Café Club in Vianden earlier this year.
Despite this, she says that “being an artist is as painful for me as when I was a journalist. I have no sales, and I have to work in fast food to buy painting supplies”.
You can find out more on her Instagram @artofinoo
Anna Barcia arrived from Barcelona in 2011 when her husband relocated to Luxembourg for work.
The 54-year-old paints abstract landscapes. “I am from the Mediterranean and missing the sea so much,” she explains. Barcia uses mostly acrylics, but is always “experimenting”.
She has a Master in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona, and initially started work as a graphic designer, but felt she was missing something. She has two boys, which she calls her “masterpieces”, but as her children have grown up, she has returned to art, and also teaches children.
For eight years, Barcia has also been going to the Académie des Beaux Arts in Arlon, where she paints, and has exhibited in Belgium, Spain, the USA, the UK, and Luxembourg, where she says materials are quite expensive and you need “contacts to open doors”.
Barcia would love to see more pop-up stores for artists with free spaces to paint and exhibit work. For now, you can see her work on Instagram @barcia_anna.