Joanna van Son

Location: London


Joanna van Son is a fine artist based in London. Van Son was born in Oman to Venezuelan/Irish and Dutch parents, and grew up in China, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Van Son commenced her current artistic practice while studying at the Bartlett School of Architecture, drawing upon her engagement with both disciplines to paint the ‘forces’ that lie beneath meaning and affect of their structure, revealing the occluded processes that constitute human experience.

From a young age, van Son was attracted to the intensity of bodily representations in Baroque art, taking particular interest in paintings by the master Caravaggio. Recognising the dynamic figurations in Caravaggio’s as well as artist Cecily Brown’s paintings, she developed a vital appreciation for process in her work.

She paints thick on thin unprimed cotton canvases nailed to the plaster walls of her studio. Once complete, each canvas is peeled off the wall and stretched onto a wooden frame. This practice exposes all the strokes and steps she's made, while also leaving a positive imprint on the wall, which becomes the site of an extraordinary palimpsest. Ultimately, her fascination is with the grey-zones of reality-making that are made visible by  art and architecture.


Submitted work

Title: The School of the Painter-Architect

About the work
A series of drawings on paper and acrylic paintings on unprimed canvas. The selected pieces imagine a building formulated around the process of re-squatting derelict land in Hackney, commenting on the future of development, inhabitance and a painterly-architectural education. 

“Winning this prize would give me a platform to be speculated; judgement is what I would win in reconsidering our understanding on the nexus between art and architecture. This isomorphic way of seeing art, architecture and ourselves in connection to perception, creation and development of our many possible futures needs to be revalued and assessed for new potential in times of political, social and environmental degradation.”