Sofia Haron is a young woman with a promising artistic talent.
The 28-year-old Penang-born is no stranger in shaping her career based on very personal themes and difficult experiences.
Sofia paints large canvases and her style of using female models - all of them specifically posed to embody certain emotions she wants to capture - is effective.
Her first solo exhibition called Eve at the Suma Orientalis gallery in Petaling Jaya is a testament to that.
Through 10 paintings, Sofia attempts to reconcile what it means to be a woman based on her experiences with her sisters, friends and even her mother. Empowerment, friendship and even jealousy are some of her themes.
“The exhibition is about appreciating the existence of women. I want to show - in this male-dominated world that we live in - that women are not objects. Sometimes, when people see me, they only see my face and not my talent, just because I’m a woman," says Sofia during an interview at the gallery.
In fact, the seemingly sensual paintings in this exhibition, with most of the female subjects dressed in just lingerie, may seem provocative or even gimmicky. But Sofia says she is trying to cement a point.
"When people look at the paintings, they would first focus on the figures because of what they are wearing. Undergarments are like a shell, a guard but people see it as nakedness. It's not. I want people to understand that women are not objects," discloses the soft-spoke Sofia.
A massive work called Descension is one of the highlights in this exhibition which comes after her group/duo exhibits such XS (2017) and Pancaroba (2018).
The painting features seven women, wearing different types of nightgowns or undergarments, huddled in various positions. There is a certain hopelessness on each of their faces. The turquoise background, with intense shades, adds to the painting's tint of sadness.
“This is based on Adam and Eve’s fall from grace when they ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Of course, I’m focusing more on Eve and her descent from heaven or having lost heaven,” explains Sofia, who has her own studio in Ara Damansara called Nirvana Space.
While paintings like Flower Of Life and Summer seem to celebrate the camaraderie and sisterhood between women, one painting in particular looks at something darker and painful. Sofia shares about her father's infidelity which eventually ended her parents' marriage some years ago through a painting called The Other Women.
"I grew up in a situation like this, which was not easy,” recounts Sofia.
But Sofia was quick to point out that these paintings, even if they took on painful themes, were never meant to focus on the negativity. Instead, Sofia uses her paintings as a “self-healing mechanism".
One powerfully large piece is Venus, which seems to be Sofia’s feminist take on Michelangelo’s famous The Creation Of Adam fresco painting. In this work, a group of women are seen reaching out to a “goddess” figure who has her finger pointed out towards them.
For Sofia, this painting is her reflection on the strength and fortitude that her mother constantly gave her while she was growing up.
The artist also shares that her mother understands her better through her paintings.
“My mum always asked me to be strong and not to cry. I’m married now and don’t live with her any longer. But whenever I have a down moment, I think of her. And Venus is just that … that light that my mothers brings. I have a strong connection to this painting,” says Sofia.
Eve is on at Suma Orientalis, 11, Lorong 11/4F Seksyen 11, Petaling Jaya, Selangor till April 28. The gallery is open daily from 11am to 7pm except on Tuesdays and public holidays. Call 03-7955 7111. Visit: www.sumaorientalis.com.