THE BREEDER presents Cypriot Socratis Socratous‘ first solo show with the gallery entitled “Six open gates and a closed one”. The exhibition consists of new cast bronze sculptures that refer to the National Garden in Athens and the symbolisms it bears as a microcosm of Greece. Socratous’ emotionally charged experiences and trauma in his motherland Cyprus immediately following the country’s violent division and forced internal migration have profoundly affected all aspects of his artistic practice. In its diversity, his work is characterized by a strategic employment of artifice, even beauty, to negotiate hard issues of loss, displacement, and destruction. A recurring theme in his work since the 1990s, the garden – nature ordered, transplanted, and delimited solely for human purposes – has, for Socratous, political parallels. The series of works Stolen Garden is sourced from the National Garden of Athens, itself the symbol of enduring national, cultural and territorial integrity against foreign attempts at coercion. The Royal Garden, commissioned in 1838 by the German Queen Amalia, showcased the imported monarchy imposed on the new Modern Greek State. When it was renamed the National Garden in the 1920s, it confirmed a new Greek identity in the wake of the Asia Minor Disaster. Now the perceived new external threats (the Troika, “illegal” migrants) are only superficially different and the internal reactions are but resurgences of traditional myths and latent fears. Socratous casts his fragile cuttings in brass, plating some in gold and silver, thus transforming the humble leaves, seeds and twigs into objects both everlasting and precious. For the exhibition “Six open gates and a closed one” Socratous lets his imagination wander beyond the seventh closed gate of the National Garden in Athens. He employs the sculptural tradition of cast bronze while at the same time he interferes throughout the process at the mould in the foundry, often eliminating elements from the compositions. The resulting sculptures are like plants with their tangled branches resembling a nightmarish haunted forest full of carcasses from prehistoric creatures. Simultaneously the color pallet of the cast bronze – that ranges from dark black to sparkling gold – is like an allegory to the present reality with the hope of a brighter future shinning through the seemingly dark present. We attended the exhibition opening and took some snapshots of the artworks we liked the most.