The Shock of the Now Issue 9
Featured Exhibition Text

Sofia Mitsola
'Aquamarina: Crocodilian tears' Solo Exhibition
Pilar Corrias
15th September 2021

‘Aquamarina: Crocodilian tears’, Sofia Mitsola’s second solo exhibition at Pilar Corrias in Fitzrovia, see’s the artist immortalise her own fictitious mythic narrative, having for many years mined the history and mythology of her native Greece for inspiration. The exhibition introduces the protagonist’s Aqua and Marina, a pair of huntress sisters, as they inhabit their seemingly paradisal underwater empire, unaware of a looming reptilian predator. The beguiling beauties lounge and frolic with wanton abandon in the gallery’s upper space, continuing the artist’s ongoing exploration of the nude female body and subversion of conventional notions of the female gaze. Not dissimilar to their Grecian or Egyptian counterparts the Sirens and the Sphinx, Mitsola’s figures are at once alluring yet confrontational, unflinchingly meeting the gaze of each and every voyeuristic viewer, whilst avoiding seductress or temptress territory with manifest sexual liberation and empowerment. Surrounded by their angelic acolytes, charms bejewelled with precious stones and architecture incorporating ornate Greek caryatids, Aqua and Marina are portrayed literally larger than life within azure, translucent turpentine washes set against swathes of luscious, opaque oil paint.

The exhibition takes a sudden, sinister turn as you move through the upper gallery space and encounter the immense drawing that wraps around two walls, evoking The Bayeux Tapestry in its depiction of the heroines impassioned battle against the evident villain of Mitsola’s myth, Crocovelus Niloticus. The warrior sisterhood’s frenzied struggle with their crocodilian foe plays out across the expanse of paper, a fury of flailing limbs, flowing hair and fierce eyes wrestle with the scaled swathes of toothed jaws, all carefully choreographed in charcoal. Downstairs, the conflict’s bloodied denouement is depicted through a triptych of paintings, lent further gravitas by their setting within the velvet-lined lower gallery space. Mitsola’s previously cherubic figures calmly subdue, or seduce, the predatory reptile, before savagely slicing its throat in the final powerful painting, dripping in sanguine. The exhibition’s press release quotes the renowned German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “Anyone who fights with monsters should make sure that he does not in the process become a monster himself.”, and in this vicious climax, it becomes clear that it was it in fact Aqua and Marina shedding crocodile tears all along.