She suck’d and suck’d and suck’d the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She suck’d until her lips were sore;
The Breeder presents Sofia Stevi’s first solo show with the gallery, titled Lizzie & Laura.
For this new series of paintings, Sofia Stevi draws inspiration from the poem The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, the protagonists of which are two sisters, Lizzie and Laura, who also lend their names to the exhibition’s title. At first glance, the poem seems like a parabole for being virtuous and the consequences that follow if one deviates. However, Rossetti’s poem can be considered groundbreaking in how it portrays a woman’s existence, always in comparison to the period’s strict morals of the Victorian era. There are no direct references, but eroticism and an almost silent admittance of female sexuality and love is evident, even between the two sisters, while no man appears in the story.
Using this poem as a starting point, Stevi presents a narrative, which revolves around woman as a presence in a society full of taboos and conventions, emphasizing on her body and the erotic and sexual aspects that have been inextricably connected to it. Inspired by Japanese calligraphy, Stevi uses ink on untreated fabric, thus complimenting the unique artistic language she has created, which comprises mainly of appropriated symbols – here mainly parts of the female anatomy, transformed into an alphabet of their own. Through their repetitive use, these shapes eventually lose their initial meaning and become abstract figures, existing outside time and space, thus transferring the viewer to a dreamscape, a parallel universe where anything can happen. Through painting, Stevi explores the possibilities of art, how it can function as a communicator of feelings and thoughts, as well as her own place in society as an artist and as a woman who, like all of us, seeks her own truth.
Also on view is a book of drawings made in preparation of the paintings as a more direct interpretation of the poem. Sofia Stevi’s interest in books comes from her studies as a bookbinder and her research in books as a vehicle of time. Similar to a walk or a film, looking or reading a book is also a rythmic act, with action, pauses, repetition.
Sofia Stevi (Athens 1982) is a graduate of Central Saint Martin’s School of Art & Design of London and lives and works in Athens. Selected shows include: The Equilibrists – Benaki Museum, Athens, organised by the New Museum, New York and the DESTE Foundation and curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Gary Carrion-Murayari and Helga Christoffersen (2016); tell me if I am too much, ALMA ZEVI Gallery – Lendi Projects, Celerina, Switzerland (2016); Cuprum (with Talisa Lallai and Marlene Starck), Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, Nicosia, Cyprus, curated by Clarissa Tempestini (2016); Aeropagus Königin (group show), Parallel Vienna, Vienna, Austria, curated by Jelena Seng (2015); The London Project Goes North (group show), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2013); The London Art Book Fair, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2011).
 Extract from the poem The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
TURN ME INTO A COUNTRY TONIGHT
#persimmons exist, photocopies & abandon exist
personages, involvement and naphthol red light exist
sewing and capitals exist
and #self-cancelation and self-cancelation
Text me how social bodies turn to lyric bodies, how tongues are both fortunate and unfortunate, how valid is a body that doesn’t resemble yours, how the lyric never stops being the spell of the sensuous.
#fascination and brushes exist
scanners, textures and indulgence exist
conversations and nutrients and pastel peach exist
and bad language parties and #badlanguageparties
what if my language is a cunt-up
what if my cunt is an eleven minute painting
what if one way of painting is temptation
what if body memories are blackberries
Steal it back. This lyre, my #enchantment.
Text me which of these symbols do you find the most striking and why, which one has a direct impact on your body, your curly hair, your sex which is not one. Text me your myriad everyday episodes. Text me now. I’m looking for something that I hope to subvert, or follow. Text me, text me, text me fast.
parallels and knives exist,
nipples, apps and bright orange flesh exist,
#voluptuousness, apples and incompleteness exist,
and meta-love songs and #meta-lovesongs
Behold my skinny body, an 1893 poem, nowadays so unromantic that it can begin to live. We lived deliciously. This our dithyramb, our dirty data, our deviance. Come and kiss me, suck my body acrylic, a 2017 talisman, the true money and the true fact.
fruits of risk exist, encounters and #cracks exist
pale pink, remainders and irons exist
hard orange skin, stairs and tangerines exist
and desiring machines and desiring machines
Crawl over me. I am a fuckable text, a trance notebook, a pop quiz, the apricots and bilberries of the Earth. I don’t want to love. I won’t love. But I too, like you, I’m addicted. Draw a line to connect us. Imagine some sweet and honied, ravenously sexual lines. Shout the lines. Flood me with your text. What will we produce?