Sonia Brandes, f. 1946

Visual Artist

Form of artistic expression: Paper Cuttings (Psaligraphy)


SoniabrandesSonia Brandes


- About the art of papercutting


When I was a child living on the island of Ærø, I cut the traditional “guess who sent this” greetings before Easter.

I was part of a local community where the seasons and the various celebrations throughout the year had vital importance – (it was before television-era). .

We looked forward eagerly to those events. They helped make life worth living. We had so few experiences, that the few there were, shined and glowed that much more. I liked the time close to Easter the best of all because that was when one made these paper cut greetings. The magic it was to fold the paper many times and cut patterns, which then repeated itself when you opened the paper, was indescribable.


The paper cut greetings got me started practicing the folk art that paper cutting is, and I had such a love of the technique, that when I later became a practicing artist, paper cutting became my form of expression.


In the folk art one usually took a piece of paper, folded it one or more times, cut through the several layers, opened it, and then one had cut something out that repeated itself and was symmetrical. This symmetry and repetition creates a pattern effect that has especially fascinated me in paper cuttings. Patterns have a stimulating effect on fantasy. One can fantasize over a pattern, begin at one end of the motive, run through the whole pattern and come back to the starting point, or one can choose any place in the middle and move out from there. Because the cutting is like an arabesque that bites itself in its tail, the movement goes on endlessly. One is never stopped, everything stands open. This is for me the strength of the pattern. It does not shut off thoughts, but one can add content to it herself.


My paper cuttings are a connected whole, which one can hold up from each corner. This demands that there are some points and strings to connect the network that the paper cutting makes, and these points and strings become a challenge to use in ones pictorial expression. These same points and strings contribute also to creating the arabesque-like pattern. Sometimes I do not use the technique of folding; it depends on the character of the work, whether or not it is used.


In France they called cutting in paper ” L´Art des Pauvres” ( the poor people´s art form) because if one had a scissors, one could cut in what was already at hand, f. ex, packing paper, wallpaper, newspaper, etc. In that regard I have moved away from folk art, in that I use acid-free paper, light resistant (lysægte???) colors and very expensive scissors. But otherwise I still feel myself related to my childhoods Easter greetings. Thus I have worked year after year with developing and trying to give my expression to the folk art I began with as a child.


Selection of some of the latest exhibitions:

1976 Southern Jutland´s Art Museum

1977 Kunstnernes egen Kunsthandel, Copenhagen

1979 Ecole de Beaux-Arts de Lille, France

1981 International Youth Library, Munich, Germany

1984 Himmerland´s Art Museum

1985 Danish Cultural Institute, Vienna, Austria

1987 Danish Cultural Institute, Edinburgh

1988 Andersen, Hiroshima, Japan

1990 The Jens Nielsen and Olivia Holm-Møller Museum, Denmark

1991 Funen Art Museum

1991 Kiev Art Museum, Ukraine

1991 Natural History Museum, Århus

1992 Tivoli, Copenhagen

1993 Karen Blixen Museum, Rungstedlund

1995 Museum Holmen, Løgumkloster

1996 Southern Jutland´s Art Museum

1998 Sophienholm, Copenhagen

1998 Art Centre Silkeborg Bad, Silkeborg

2000 Sct. Canute´s Abbey, Odense

2003 The Karen Blixen Museum, Rungstedlund

2006 Museum Holmen, Løgumkloster

2006 Tårnborg, Ribe

2008 Tobaksgården, Assens

2010 World Exhibition in Shanghai, with Odense commune

2011 Arts Center Silkeborg Bad

2012 Ærø Museum, Søbygård

2012 Gallery Weber, Svendborg

2012 Munkeruphus, Dronningemølle

2014 Ebeltoft Art Association

2016 Dalarnas Museum

2017 Johannes Larsen Museum

2019 SAK, Svendborg


Udsmykningsopgaver udført til:

Munkebjerg School Library 

Odense Koncerthus

IC-3 tog Liden Kirsten

Copenhagens word blind school

Sdr.Broby Church

Nursing home Åløkkeparken

Max Planck Institut, Rostock, Tyskland

Munkemose Care Center

Hospice Sydvestjylland

Theological Educational Center, Løgumkloster

Manhole covers, informationboards and benches in Odense city pedestrian street


Illustrerede bøger:

1975 ”Snedronningen”. Flensteds Forlag

1984 ”Nu er dagen fuld af sang”. Samvirke

1988 ”Henrikog Else”. Borgens Forlag

1988 ”H.C.Andersen- Digte og Sange"

1989 ”B.S.Ingemann: Morgen- og Aftensange”. Poul Kristensens Forlag

1989 ”Smukt og Enkelt”. Fiskers Forlag

1993 ”Karyatiderne” af Karen Blixen. Gyldendal

1995 ”Det Gamle Testamente”. Ogham Verlag, Stuttgart, Tyskland

1996 ”Folkegaven”

1998 ”Arabesque”

1999 ”Marie de France,12 Lais,” Eget Forlag

2003 ”Søbygaard”

2003 ”Labyrint”

2005 ”H.C.Andersen og Skytsenglen”. Det Danske Bibelselskab

2005 ”Salmer af Brorson”. Taarnborg Ribe

2006 ”At prædike for børn”. Anis

2009 ”Haandarbejdets Fremme. Årets korssting”

2010 "Illusterede Alfabet - Gætteleg med H. C. Andersen". Kle-art

2011 "Treading the Dance". Hovedland


Sonia Brandes´ paper cuttings have also been used for the following purposes:

Scenography, chasubles, ex libris, logos, giftwrap, Christmas decorations, posters (including Tivoli´s poster, Copenhagen 1992, and a poster for Churches Councils in Denmark 2000), industrial design.


Sold to:

Fyns Art Museum, Holstebro Art Museum, Southern Jutland´s Art Museum, Hans Christian Andersen´s House, Himmerlands Art Museum, Museum Holmen, Løgumkloster, Karen Blixen Museum Rungstedlund, New Carlsberg Fund, Andersen Hiroshima ,Japan, Tønder Museum, Sophienholm.


Prices and grants:

H.C. Andersen Prize 2003

National Art Fund Work Grant 1977 and 1981