Sophia Vari’s Geometric Sculptures Hold the Weight of Greek History
In a group of jewel-like sculptures of sensual marble and gilded bronze, Sophia Vari continues her exploration of dimensionality, contrast, and luxe formalism. “Le Désir de la Forme,” her first exhibition of sculpture in Britain, is now on view at Contini Art UK, presenting the Greek artist’s monumental sculptures, drawings, paintings, and design work, all in her signature voluptuous abstract style.
In “Le Désir de la Forme,” Vari demonstrates a dynamic play with space and geometry, in works made up of intertwined, colliding shapes. As the viewer circles the plinths, the surfaces of these alien forms seem to open and close, alternately hiding and revealing visual aspects. An ability to give her pieces a weighty, three-dimensional presence is an element that carries across Vari’s output, forcing the viewer to think about the sculptures in relation to their surroundings.
These works have a visceral tactility. The marbles in the front of the gallery are carved from blocks imported from Paphos, Cyprus, which are striking due to the stones’ absence of veins as well as their deep, almost historical presence. In contrast, the bronzes at the far end of the exhibition are futuristic and opulent, reflecting the viewer and the space in their polished surfaces. While an initial examination of each work may not shed light on its source of inspiration, a keen observer will begin to see narratives inspired by history and the artist’s own experiences: a playful seal tossing a ball in Circus Act 2 (2008) or the Greek mythology present in Minotaure II (2011).
As is characteristic of Vari’s work, these sculptures demonstrate the artist’s clear awareness of balance: her pieces teeter between between hard and soft, energetic and slow, loose and specific, classical and contemporary. In offering a more intimate scale than her site-specific installations, “Le Desir de la Forme” clearly demonstrates a place in Vari’s career where she is a master of her own visual language and the power of suggestion.