I asked Stevie about the tattoo that peeked under her jacket’s sleeve: a slender snake in black ink, which coiled around her wrist without constricting it and seemed to climb up her hand. We talked about this and other things in a lively chat that lasted until night fell on us.
These kind of conversations with people we haven’t known for long leave sediments that can last days, if not longer, before completely disappearing. Which is why I treasured the image of the snake and kept thinking for the next few days about the reasons that might take someone to tattoo such a complex symbol on their skin, a symbol with such negative connotations in christian tradition. A tradition that, on the other hand, has a not insignificant burden in Belgium, where the artist hails from. The devil’s temptation has scales and a forked tongue:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
It’s the portrayal of sin according to the Genesis, but also a “sting” of alluring curiosity, and feminine audacity. That sting is quick as lightning, a jolt can have a similar effect to the one some of these paintings give. Now while the snake is the most recurrent one, there are other symbols in Stevie Dix’s paintings, some of which are easy to recognize, while others remain in the shadows like enigmas… the silhouette of a black palm tree in the desert, a football glowing like a falling meteor, the crescent moon unfolding.
Other than a rich symbology of personal nature, sometimes even biographical, Stevie Dix’s works create their own territory, full of lights, shadows and surprising details. By getting lost in it, hidden things appear: the fluctuating hues of a darkness that at times becomes red like fire, others blue like an autumn’s sunset. And, of course, in four of these paintings is present the eternal curve of the snake that slithers through the surface. This time are the details, though, that if one observes and listens closely, hiss and speak of forbidden temptations.
Text by Esmeralda Gómez Galera
Stevie Dix (b. 1990) is a Belgian artist living and working in Suffolk, UK, and has been part of our L21 x Fundación Camper Artist Residency Program. In her recent solo exhibitions, we find Désert (Nevven Gallery, Gothenburg, 2018), Stevie Dix (The Journal Gallery’s Tennis Elbow, New York, 2017), Conceived in El Coyote (The Cabin, Los Angeles, 2017) and England I love you but you’re tearing me down (Rod Barton Gallery, London, 2017). She has also been included in group shows at Plus One Gallery (Antwerp, 2018 and 2017), Hannah Barry Gallery (London, 2017), Carlsberg Byens Galleri och Kunstsalon (Copenhagen, 2017) and L21 (Mallorca, 2017).