Sophia Anthony: interior motives
March 18 - April 29, 2023
Ro2 Art is thrilled to present Interior Motives, an exhibition of new work by Sophia Anthony. The exhibition will open March 18 and remain on view through April 29, 2023, with an opening reception to be held at Ro2 Art’s expansive new gallery in Dallas’ Tin District, located at 2606 Bataan St., Dallas, TX, from 7-10pm. This will be the artist’s first solo show at the gallery.
In Interior Motives, Sophia Anthony presents a series of paintings and drawings that depict narrative, interior scenes. The singular figures in her paintings, typically men, are often set amidst uncertain atmospheres and architectures, situated somewhere between portraiture and narrative. Combining elements of art history, cinema, and literature, her tightly constructed works synthesize many different painting styles to create complex, psychological tableaus that consider, question, and negotiate ideas of masculinity.
Referencing cinema, art history, and found photography, my work depicts figures, typically men, amidst uneasy atmospheres in tightly constructed paintings and drawings. The paintings tend to quiet, subtle moments that belie lurking drama, while the drawings offer a distinct, more immediate psychology. Both practices investigate the act of looking, whether it be towards painting history, film, or contemporary image culture, by creating highly varied surfaces that oscillate between obsessive precision and gestural ambiguity.
Poetry, lyrics, and literature inform how I construct my paintings and drawings. Of particular interest is the superfluous man character of Pushkin’s poem Eugene Onegin, a type that seems to resonate with the protagonists of my paintings, and more broadly with contemporary questions of masculinity. Just as the titular character of Eugene Onegin unravels throughout the poem, so to do the figures in my work seem in a perpetual state of dissolution, both in their psychological expression and in moments of gesturally painted brush strokes.
I gather a variety of sources, including found images, film stills, and observation. Synthesizing these references, I construct my paintings into horizontal, mid-shot compositions that frame the figures as characters, moving through fictive spaces. As I work, I paint in numerous styles to signify a complex relationship to the figures. Painstaking details in clothing and hair will appear next to expressive marks that describe motion or atmosphere, while architectural motifs are often rendered to the point of geometric abstraction. The multi-modality of my painting practice underscores the emotions of the figures and creates a sense of spatial and psychological interiority, while also suggesting that these narratives are open to multiple interpretations.
F\or example, in the painting Bitters End, the speed and control of marks varies across the canvas. The glass that moves into the frame from the right side shimmers with Vermeer-like light. In another corner, the shirt and mangled left eye of the main figure are as loosely gestural as Hals. The scratches on the navy sleeve suggest handling similar to Twombly, while the architectural depictions of the top right corner are as geometrically minimal as Newman. These moments of shifting painting styles feel somehow analogous to the structure of a story within a story. Like the embedded narrative of The Grand Inquisitor within Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, moving the reader back and forth between fictions to dramatize the interior conflicts of the characters, the varied mark-making becomes a device that switches the viewer across references, histories, and emotional states.
About the Artist
Sophia Anthony (b. 1997, Texas) received her MFA from The University of Chicago in 2022 after earning dual undergraduate degrees from Southwestern University in Studio Art (BFA) and Physics (BA), graduating summa cum laude in 2019. She has also studied at Tyler School of Art in Temple University and The University of Maryland. She has exhibited nationally, including Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Recent exhibitions include Sophia Anthony: Interior Motives, Ro2 Art, Dallas (2023, solo); New Texas Talent XXIX, Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas (2022); Beautiful Snail, Logan Center Gallery, Chicago (2022); Garden of the Laws, Sarofim Fine Arts Gallery, Georgetown, TX (2019, solo); and The Speaking Silence, DEASIL at Bermac Arts, Houston, TX (2019, solo). This will be her first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Sophia Anthony, Interior Motives, 2023, Oil on linen, 18 x 24 in.
Sophia Anthony, (Finally) In the Entranceway, 2023, Oil on panel, 8 x 6 in.
Sophia Anthony, Lost Profile, 2022, Oil on modeling paste and canvas, 24 x 36 in.
Sophia Anthony, Off Work, 2022, Oil on linen, 30 x 48 in.
Sophia Anthony, Smoke Screen, 2022, Graphite on paper, 11 x 14 in.
Sophia Anthony, Full Screen, 2022, Graphite on paper, 11 x 14 in.
Sophia Anthony, The Tie, 2023, Oil on linen, 8 x 10 in.
Sophia Anthony, Bitters End, 2022, Oil on modeling paste and canvas, 18 x 24 in.
Sophia Anthony, Prepare a Face, 2023, Oil on canvas, 10 x 8 in.
Sophia Anthony, Understood Incomprehensibly, 2023, Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 in.
Sophia Anthony, Double Bluff, 2022, Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 in.
Sophia Anthony, Monologue, 2022, Oil on modeling paste and canvas, 24 x 12 in.
Sophia Anthony, Visions of, 2022, Graphite on paper, 11 x 20 in.
Sophia Anthony, City of, 2022, Graphite on paper, 6 x 18 in.