Greek artist Sofia Stevi (b. 1982) will debut her first solo presentation in a public institution this winter at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, displaying a selection of recent paintings alongside a new body of work created for her exhibition, turning forty winks into a decade (15 December 2017 – 22 April 2018).

Stevi makes bold, large-scale paintings, sculpture, books, works on paper and installations, drawing inspiration from literature, philosophy and the everyday. Her works bring together a wide range of references, from the writings of Victorian poet Christina Rossetti, to found images on Instagram, which Stevi interprets through a series of studies on fabric. Her background as a designer is incorporated into her fluid use of line and narrative graphics, abstracting her source material and experimenting with soft, pliable materials, such as untreated cotton, as a base for her work.

Stevi’s sweeping lines and colours describe form with a sense of playfulness and animation. Her paintings capture fleshy fruits and soft body contours with a cartoon-like expressiveness. Made with Japanese ink, the works evoke the domestic but contain a charged eroticism. A series of symbols and abstracted body parts repeat and recur throughout the work; torsos and limbs dissolve into psychedelic patterns and washes of colour. Moving between the real and imaginary, Stevi’s works are often deeply personal, exploring the artist’s desires and dreams.

For her exhibition at Baltic, Stevi has made a new body of paintings, fabric collages, books and pillows, exploring dreams and the unconscious. The symbols Stevi uses feature prominently throughout these works and can be read as an alphabet or as a key to unlocking meaning. Visitors will have the opportunity to view an archive of the artist’s paintings in a series of hand-stitched books comprising cut-up works that Stevi has never exhibited.

Born in Athens in 1982, Sofia Stevi initially trained as a graphic designer and bookbinder at the Vakalo School in Athens and Central St Martins in London. In 2010 Stevi co-founded the publishing house Friary Road House poetry press and in 2013 she co-founded the artist-run space Fokidos, where she continues to curate and host exhibitions and residencies. This is Stevi’s first major solo exhibition in a public institution. Stevi is represented by The Breeder, Athens and Alma Zevi, Venice/Celerina.