Sophia Vari in Istanbul with sculptures and paintings

Sophia Vari in Istanbul with sculptures and paintings

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Sophia Vari in Istanbul with sculptures and paintings

As a sculptor, Vari has a deep knowledge of the traditional art forms and their history. In her sculptures, even in those most abstract, the incisive beauty of the human figure seeps out.

The Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation is presenting an exhibition by the Greek artist Sophia Vari at the Pera Museum, curated by Marisa Oropesa and Maria Toral, which will showcase a significant range of Vari’s work through a selection sculptures and paintings. Sophia Vari, primarily a sculptor, works in both monumental and small scale, using bronze and stone. Her monumental sculptures allure with shape and color; the elegant and abstract explorations of form and structure express compassion and commitment. Vari’s work is based on the difference between what can be sensed and what can be seen. As she underlines form and consistency, time goes hand in hand with space; what can be seen with what can be felt. 

Traditional art and Vari

As a sculptor, Vari has a deep knowledge of the traditional art forms and their history. In her sculptures, even in those most abstract, the incisive beauty of the human figure seeps out. The artist asserts her desire: “to imbue shapes and color, and even their very geometry, with human qualities, within a spatial context.” At the beginning of her artistic career, Vari was also an enthusiastic painter, especially during the years in Paris, when she was intensely fascinated by the sensuous shapes of the women in Rubens’ paintings. In fact, the feminine subject frequently reappears in both her graphical and sculptural works. However, she felt the need for a different expression other than painting and stating in 1976 that, “painting is an illusion, a trompe l’oeil. I want to touch, I want the volume, I want to be able to walk around my work, I want to create into a space, to prove that what I created really does exist. Discovering these things, I began to feel my own existence”.

Born in Athens in 1940, to a Greek father and a Hungarian mother, Sophia Vari spent part of her childhood in Switzerland, studied in England and France, and nowadays lives between New York, Monaco and Pietrasanta. Internationally renowned as a painter and a sculptor in her own right, she is married to the well-known Columbian painter Fernando Botero. She also explores the field of jewelry design and semi-precious stones, successfully experimenting with different materials such as silver, ivory, gold, and coral. Sophia Vari has exhibited in prestigious institutions, and her monumental sculptures can be seen in major cities around the world.

Marisa Oropesa, curator, said about Vari: “The curves of her bronze figures are enhanced by color, colors inspired by her native Greece, elements that come together to catalyze the desire to touch the sculptures. These works brim with the sensuality, movement and modernity that reflect her most primitive impulses. But it is not only the shapes that captivate us; colors are also there, as they are in the natural world that surrounds us. Her sculptures in black bronze with blue create an eye-catching contrast, found in such pieces as One and the Other. Equally intriguing is her ability to skillfully use red, a bright, vivid color that combines perfectly with black as seen in Midnight Sun.

With regard to her other creations, it is clear that to be able to create in three dimensions, first one has to know how to create in two. Yet again, the artist reveals her multidisciplinary grasp in magnificent watercolors and personal collages. She creates the same unique spaces “on the flat” that she produces in her sculptures, said Oropesa. Her watercolors stand out for their brush strokes and skillful use of color, which turn them into unique and extremely beautiful pieces. The sure lines and light, ethereal drawing are present in these works, such as for example The Lost Wings, which a particularly original watercolor is given its round shape, she added.

Art critique Marcel Paquet, on the other hand, said of Varis: “Not only do the sculptures show the splendour of the places and the nature of the beings surrounding them where they are on show in all their majestic calm, but they also take with them a part of the splendors revealed. Sophia Vari’s works thus become enriched by each journey they make.”

Panama and Colombia

This is what the Uraba collage from 2013 shows, according to Paquet, “but highlights in the piece itself the memory of a unique event. It conjures up dreams of the world’s most grandiose landscapes, of mountains and sea, there where the River Chico flows into the gulf which separates and joins Panama and Colombia, inviting us to reflect upon the history of the first European colony in South America, the “Golden Castle” capital, also the theatre of major slave revolts and starting point of Colombia’s fight for independence and launch point into the Pacific. It invites the imagination to soar freely and roam through the infinity of space and time, but on a more down-to-earth note it may perhaps be used as a door opening onto the inside of the piece,” he added.