Transformations: The Art of Sonia Payes traces the development of Payes’s career in which, in opposition to the ‘hyper-styled, highly colour-saturated’ photography of the digital age, she has quietly created a more personalised, monochromatic and moody language. Crawford describes it as ‘discourse in chiaroscuro’ in which her camera ‘somehow capsizes our normal expectations of how the natural world should appear’. Landscape and the body, and the melding of the two, are her subjects – but they are formulated in ways that belie rational explanation.
Since her artist-in-residency in China in 2012 where she witnessed natural cornfields quarried for the cement needed for massive urban redevelopment, Payes’s preoccupation has been ‘regeneration’ of the environment for future inhabitants. Hence her computer animation ‘Corn and Quarries’ with its regenerated fields of all-seeing human faces with their vision focused North, South, East and West, intent on this planet’s survival.