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Sophie Benini

MEADOW UNDER THE STARS

Spring 2020

 

 

Meadows Under the Stars showcases Benini's poetic "narrative embroideries" made of multitudes of fabrics, threads, pearls, organza, shells, leaves and small found objects the artist collects during her daily walks in the City of Rome where she lives. Under her magical thumb, Benini transmits stories of a nature she reveres offering us a glimpse of the mysterious. After the first sense of wonder, pure and simple beauty emerges.

In her studio,  that looks like a treasure chest, she meticulously re-assembles the artifacts she says are "parts of her heart". For her, a book or an illustration, is like a magical door which opens into a private world of lights, shadows, colors and signs.

While collages have always been her passion, she discovered embroidery a few years ago, leading her to create "by commission only", a series of well saught-after embroidered portraits.

 

Benini belongs to those rare and few artists Agnes Martin wrote "depend upon perception alone".  

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When I imagine a book or an illustration, I am no longer a grown-up thinking as a child, I am a child. I feel suspended in between two worlds, like in a strange state of Grace. For me, a book is a special place where my imagination can freely wander creating a universe full of echoes and resonances. I work with fragments of life, sparkles that narrate a story to which I give a second life. Sometimes, elements leave my books and travel to larger scale, like my embroideries. There, the repetition in my sewing has the power of an incantation, as if I was trying to align all the points of creation.

- Sophie Benini

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The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all Science.    

- Albert Einstein.

Meadow under the stars 1

detail of Meadow Under the Stars

Beauty will Save The World.

- Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)

Sophie Benini Pietromarchi, is a French Italian established author and illustrator of children’s books. She grew up in France, where she was born, and she later moved to Italy and attended the University of Florence, majoring in literature and graphic design.  Her books, stories and images have been published in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, India, Israel, China and South Korea. Benini has conducted workshops throughout Europe, at international festivals including Edimburgh International Book Festival, Fiera del libro de Madrid, Europalia Festival, Eurokidsfestival in Washington D. C., Jumpstart festival (India); and in various venues such as schools (Lycée Chateaubriand, The Art and Technology Academy Public Charter School in Washington D.C.), public libraries (Mediatèque de l’Institut Français de Rome, Library of Congress Washington D.C.), museums (Maxxi, Macro in Rome, Sackler and Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.).

In her workshops, she encourages children to explore a wide range of storytelling and illustration techniques. She lives in Rome with her photographer husband and their two children.  Benini is the author of "The Book Book" followed by "The Color Book", Tara Publishers.

La legion perdida 1

© Sophie Benini, "La legion Perdida",  Thule Ediciones, micro cut paper, gouache, collage, micro-mosaique on paper, 28x42cm, 2014

Some of her work as an illustrator includes collaborations with best-selling authors Azar Nafisi (author of Reading Lolita in Teheran) and Frank McCourt (author of Angela’s Ashes) with the italian publisher Adelphi. In India, she has published two books with the multi-award winning publisher Tara Books (India). The Spanish Edition of The Book Book was included by the Mexican Department of Education into their national primary school curriculum.

In 2014 The Book Office of the Institut Français en Inde / Embassy of France in India invite Sophie, “as one of the finest author and illustrator of children’s books”, in the context of Jumpstart Festival to be held in New Delhi on 25th and 26th August 2014 and in Bangalore on 28th August. In her book La Legión Perdida, (Thule) 2015 she creates 19 micro mosaics of paper illustrations.

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 La Legion Perdida, Thule Ediciones © sophiebenini/Thule ediciones micro cut paper, gouache, collage, micro-mosaique on paper,  28cm/42cm, 2014

Sophie illustrated a historical book set during the Roman Empire, La Legion Perdida (2015, Thule, Barcelona). That book informed her decision to work with micro mosaics made of paper. In 2016, she created and conducted a workshop at the Mast Bologna Passage in India by composing a photographic image without camera with assemblage technique. In 2017 she create and conduct the workshops on persian miniature at the Sackler and Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian in Washington D. C. Adventures from the Persian Book of Kings and Heroes and Villains from the Book of Kings make them creating a double page of a manuscript. Her collection Maniphie of artist’s jewelry hand-woven were presented in Lisa Corti Milano and Lisa Corti Roma (2019).

Her "narrative embroideries" and "textile storytelling" were exhibited in solo and group shows in Milan M’innamoro Lisa Corti Emporium and in Rome, Galleria Bruno Lisi, Florence (Museo La Specola). RiVolti, Les Libellules, Bologna (2019).

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La Legion Perdida, Thule Ediciones © sophie benini/Thule ediciones micro cut paper, gouache, collage, micro-mosaique on paper, 28cm/42cm,  2014

Portrait  of Nicola

© Sophie Benini, Portrait de Nicola, 2011, cotton thread on coffee bag, collage, cardboard, newspapers, papier maché,  68 x 112cm

Benini is known for her well saught-after embroidered portraits she makes only by request. 

color book

The colour book © Sophie Benini Pietromarchi/Tarabooks collage, gouache, 2013

 

In The Color Book, (Tara Books publisher), Sophie Benini Pietromarchi explores color with child readers in a multitude of ways. “If you ask me,” she writes on page one, “I would have preferred to color quietly, instead of talking. I’m marking this great white page with blue ink, but ideally, I would rather not have written any words at all. Color speaks for itself better than words can — you can ‘feel’ color, and it goes straight to your heart.” But despite this, she notes, she wrote the book to invite children to “get to know colors” — by playing with them, contemplating their subtleties and meanings, considering the emotions that they evoke. It’s what she calls a color dance.

It’s a book both poetic and practical. She opens by relaying the feelings she remembers from her childhood — all based on colors. She then explores what colors are capable of by creating a character for each one (the Red Dragon, Mrs. Brown Snail, etc.), and she further discusses colors and moods by devoting an entire chapter to them. In the book’s second section, “The Basics,” she discusses such things as primary colors, complementary colors, and contrasting colors. And she closes the book by suggesting readers create their own books that explore color; her suggestions for readers’ color books are detailed, and child readers could easily follow along.

Pietromarchi, who both wrote and illustrated the book, uses collages, photos, and found objects in nature to lay it all out, and with an infectious passion for art, she invites readers to make connections and create art meaningful to them.

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© sophie benini pietromarchi (tara books),The colour book, collage, gouache, 38 x 28 cm, 2013

The Color Book (2014), Tara Books (publisher) Illustrated in remarkable collage artwork, and written in an intimate easy tone by Sophie Benini, reveals a world of enchantment and imagination that teaches young artists to explore the world around them. Children learn to mix colors and shades, to create a personal color diary, associate colors with emotions and personalities, and discover color in their surroundings—The Color Book bursts with these playful prompts.

- New Age Mama, Book Review, April 2014

Last bio page

© Sophie Benini Pietromarchi 2020

Benini is presently working on new "narrative embroideries" destined for her new book, Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood) inspired by "Les Contes de Ma Mère l’Oye", a collection of literary fairy tales written by Charles Perraults and published in Paris in 1697.

She lives and works in Rome

Sophie Benini

Meadow Under The Stars

Slide-Show Thumbnails

SOPHIE BENINI

The Dew (La Rosee)

Stitches on Organza, Organza, Velvet, Beads

35.04h x 21.65w in
89h x 55w cm

SOB004

Inquire

Installation view, Sophie Benini, Meadow Under The Stars

(Left) The Dew (La Rosee), (Right) Meadow Under The Stars

Organza, pearl beads, silk

Inquire

SOPHIE BENINI

Meadow Under The Stars, 2019

Stitches on Organza, organza beads

43.31h x 39.76w in
110h x 101w cm

SOB001

Inquire

SOPHIE BENINI

The Sunny Earth (Le Monde Ensoleille), 2019

Stitches on Organza, linen and Organza

55.12h x 54.33w in
140h x 138w cm

SOB003

Inquire

SOPHIE BENINI

The Dew (La Rosee)

Stitches on Organza, Organza, Velvet, Beads

35.04h x 21.65w in
89h x 55w cm

SOB004

Installation view, Sophie Benini, Meadow Under The Stars

(Left) The Dew (La Rosee), (Right) Meadow Under The Stars

Organza, pearl beads, silk

SOPHIE BENINI

Meadow Under The Stars, 2019

Stitches on Organza, organza beads

43.31h x 39.76w in
110h x 101w cm

SOB001

SOPHIE BENINI

The Sunny Earth (Le Monde Ensoleille), 2019

Stitches on Organza, linen and Organza

55.12h x 54.33w in
140h x 138w cm

SOB003

Sophie Benini

Meadow Under The Stars

Thumb-Show Thumbnails

SOPHIE BENINI

The Dew (La Rosee)

Stitches on Organza, Organza, Velvet, Beads

35.04h x 21.65w in
89h x 55w cm

SOB004

Inquire

Installation view, Sophie Benini, Meadow Under The Stars

(Left) The Dew (La Rosee), (Right) Meadow Under The Stars

Organza, pearl beads, silk

Inquire

SOPHIE BENINI

Meadow Under The Stars, 2019

Stitches on Organza, organza beads

43.31h x 39.76w in
110h x 101w cm

SOB001

Inquire

SOPHIE BENINI

The Sunny Earth (Le Monde Ensoleille), 2019

Stitches on Organza, linen and Organza

55.12h x 54.33w in
140h x 138w cm

SOB003

Inquire

SOPHIE BENINI

The Dew (La Rosee)

Stitches on Organza, Organza, Velvet, Beads

35.04h x 21.65w in
89h x 55w cm

SOB004

Installation view, Sophie Benini, Meadow Under The Stars

(Left) The Dew (La Rosee), (Right) Meadow Under The Stars

Organza, pearl beads, silk

SOPHIE BENINI

Meadow Under The Stars, 2019

Stitches on Organza, organza beads

43.31h x 39.76w in
110h x 101w cm

SOB001

SOPHIE BENINI

The Sunny Earth (Le Monde Ensoleille), 2019

Stitches on Organza, linen and Organza

55.12h x 54.33w in
140h x 138w cm

SOB003

Sophie Benini

Meadow Under The Stars