Artist to Watch Sofia Mitsola Gives Ancient Greek Mythology a Contemporary Twist
Depicting fictional goddesses and sirens, the artist's alluring paintings are on view at Pilar Corrias in London through October 2
Ancient Greek myths about goddesses, sirens, and sphinxes are given a contemporary spin in the hands of Sofia Mitsola. Born in Thessaloniki, Greece, and now based in London, the buzzy talent creates lush, monumental paintings of invented female characters who are defiant, alluring, and totally in command of their own pleasure and sexuality. “I am interested in exploring ideas of control, voyeurism, confrontation, and power,” says Mitsola. “What I love about mythology is the way it engages and controls the viewer and how the story can take them on an emotional roller coaster. But in my paintings, the figures are the ones in charge.”
After graduating from art school in Greece, Mitsola moved to England to study at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art. During that time, she began regularly visiting the Egyptian and Greek sculptures at the British Museum. “These celestial beings were larger than life and made you look up to them and admire them but also made you feel afraid,” she says. “That feeling is what fueled my own characters. I want them to be powerful, strong, and seductive but at the same time to have that remoteness to them—and a sense of danger.”
Each body of work begins with an intense period of research, writing, and drawing. The artist then plans out the compositions, arranging the forms on note cards in a choreographed sequence. “For me, painting is very performative,” says Mitsola. “My favorite part of the process is when I apply the first color washes and begin to sketch the forms, and in this moment, I am almost dancing around the canvas.”
Through October 2, Mitsola has a solo show at Pilar Corrias, where she will conjure a splendid ancient palace covered in murals and wallpaper. Visitors will find a selection of drawings and her new paintings depicting the story of Aqua and Marina, the artist’s latest characters. “I am making a myth as I would expect it to be,” she says. “It is the story that I want to tell.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2021 Fall Issue under the headline “Freeze Frames.” Subscribe to the magazine.