Sofia Mitsola works primarily with paintings in which she investigates the female form. Her invented characters are informed by ancient Greek and Egyptian sculptures of goddesses or mythical creatures. Her figures are set in geometric backgrounds with intensely bright and almost flat colours and are depicted undressed and larger than humanscale. Through them, Mitsola is playing with ideas about voyeurism, confrontation, and power.
In her exhibition Darladiladada, Mitsola is exploring the environment her protagonists inhabit, an island of pleasures and desire, partly formed from her own experience of the islands in Greece and partly by her writing. Mitsola is inspired by the literature of writer Vladmir Nabokov and works through the process of painting similarly to how a writer composes a novel. Inventing a story, the place and the characters. In Darladiladada, she forms her narrative through the language of painting using repetitive motifs, textures and colour.
Her nude figures expose their vulnerability to the viewer whilst inviting them to engage in a flirtatious game of looking and being looked at. Darladiladada is the title of a traditional Greek song, sponge divers would sing when travelling their boats across the sea. Like many of Mitsola's titles it is playful and nostalgic. The largest painting in the show, also titled Darladiladada, is a triptych depicting two female figures sitting on a canoe floating in the Greek sea. Through her use of colour the painting implies the notion of alternating temperatures; their warm heavy bodies are immersed by the coolness of the sea dividing the composition into two. The translucency of the water works against the opacity of the warm adding to the feeling of temperature and weight.
Sofia Mitsola (b. 1992 Thessaloniki, Greece) currently lives and works in London. She graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL in 2018. Recent solo exhibitions include: Banistiri, Pilar Corrias, London (2019); Jerwood Solo Presentations 2019, Jerwood Space, London (2019). Her recent group exhibitions include: dreamtigers, 125 Charing Cross, London (2019). Mitsola was awarded the Tiffany & Co x outset Studiomakers Prize (2018) and the British Institution Student Award by the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2018).
Westward Shrinking Hours
Westward Shrinking Hours presents a new series of large-scale mixed media canvases which hang unstretched in the style of tapestries, and two large scale charcoal drawings.
This body of work continues Chisom's sci-fi epic in which People of Colour have abandoned a dying Earth to explore the universe. Westward Shrinking Hours specifically illustrates Monument Valley on Earth, where Confederate and Union soldiers have traveled to investigate reports of 'monstrous' people in the territory. What they find is a population in various states of evolution-these so-called monstrous or grotesque physicalities are in fact mutations developed to assist in their survival post environmental fallout. Overt conflict erupts across the narrative, and envelops the viewer in an explosive palette of warm tones.
Chisom's work is conceptually-based on a paradigm shift for the future. The artist's compositions reference the radicalised idioms of Victorian fantasy illustration, and use the romantic landscape as a site where the apocalyptic narratives of white supremacy, Christianity, and climate change intersect—a scenario in which most of the built environment has been obliterated and transformed into a toxic, hallucinatory wasteland.
Chisom states, 'I am concerned with the historical construction of whiteness in fiction as an antagonism between notions of civility and barbarism, the built environment versus the 'natural' landscape-the civic human subject in relation to the monstrous absolute Other. I position the romantic landscape as disturbed by the traces of Western imperialism and structural violence through a process that involves layering, spraying, or scraping away. For me, painting is a process of agitating a sealed-away past as a means to reconstitute itself in the present. I reference contemporary Black Lives Matter imagery, medieval Christian iconography, figures from Western mythology/history, as well as details from my own idiosyncratic life story.' Fascinated with thermal vision imagery, in its ability to highlight connections between seeing and violence, and preoccupied by Christian iconography, Chisom conjures images that are both warm and chilling, akin to a pietà surveilled by a U.S. Army drone.
Sedrick Chisom (b. 1989, Philadelphia, PA) lives and works in Bloomington, IN and New York, NY. The artist received a full scholarship to study at Cooper Union. While at Cooper Union, Chisom received the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation Award for Exceptional Ability. After completing his BFA, he received his MFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. His work has been displayed at numerous group shows, including at JTT Gallery, Signal Gallery, and Abrons Art Center. He has been featured in New American Painters (Issue 134), Forbes Magazine, Artnet, and Artsy. He was recently awarded The 2018-2019 VCU Fountainhead Fellowship in Painting and Drawing and is was in residence at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
When the Night Air Stirs, (2019) marked the artist's first solo show at Matthew Brown Los Angeles. Chisom's work is currently on view in Great Force at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Richmond.
Press release courtesy Pilar Corrias.