The Secrets of the Sophie la Rosière Project

Written by Vaiva Slapsys


Step into the mysterious forgotten life of early 20th century French painter Sophie La Rosière when you visit the agYU from now until December 11th. Spectacularly reconstructed by artist Iris Haussler, Sophie’s studio stands in the midst of the gallery, each piece carefully shipped from France so as not to disturb any of the original pieces. The studio is marvellously reconstructed, complete with photo albums from Sophie’s childhood, the dried flowers that Iris discovered strewn across her living room floor, and dozens of unhinged doors covered in layers of blackened beeswax.

Doors, you ask? Beeswax, you ask? Iris was curious too. Iris felt such a great sense of duty to bring Sophie justice as an artist that she took no risks with the covered doors — having a sense of what might be underneath the layers of wax — and took them to the Louvre itself.  The Louvre was enthusiastic in helping Iris give Sophie back her voice, and they were ecstatic that there may be the works of an undiscovered French artist beneath the encaustic panels and agreed to X-ray them to see what might be discovered beneath the soot and wax.  The results of the X-rays were intriguing, indeed. The doors and panels all seemed to have erotic paintings of a female figure underneath the obscuring encaustic.

Thrilled with this discovery, Iris worked tirelessly to uncover Sophie’s life story. She found that the paintings were of her lover, Florence, who left Sophie in heartbreak in 1917 and caused her to obscure all evidence of their love affair. Iris was deeply moved by Sophie’s untold story, and was determined to pay homage to a wonderful artist who has been forgotten until today. Enter the reconstructed studio and watch as you are transported to 20th century France. Enter the next room to see small pieces that Iris has deemed invaluable to understanding Sophie’s life. Watch Iris’ documentation of her discovery of Sophie and her lifestyle. Visit Scrap Metal downtown to see the second piece of Iris’ display, which has the original X-rays for us to marvel at.

But the secrets that Iris uncovers aren’t all that she has in store for you. Interested in learning the full truth about the scandalous Sophie? Visit the agYU – always free! – before the exhibition is over, or be left wondering forever…