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).
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.
For 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.