Sofia Bassi (née Celorio Mendoza) was born in Santa Rosa Necoxtla, Veracruz, today Ciudad Camerino Z. Mendoza, Veracruz. Born to a Spanish father and Mexican mother, she grew up in a solid and conventional home in Córdoba, Veracruz. After finishing her secondary education, and with the support of her mother, she went to high school in the capital and later took two years of Philosophy at the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). A self-taught artist, she started painting at the age of 51.
Her first individual exhibition, of 45 oil paintings, in 1965, was an unusual success, 40 of the 45 works exhibited were sold, and the critics of the art world described her new work as “delirious lyricism”. During the following years she exhibited at the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana, the Museo de Arte Moderno, the Museo de la Ciudad de México, among others.
On January 3, 1968, an accident caused the death of her son-in-law Count Cesare d’Acquarone in Acapulco, Sofia Bassi blamed herself and from that night on she was sent to the Municipal Jail of Acapulco, Guerrero. The scandal captivated the national and international media and the justice system sentenced her to 11 years in prison. Thanks to her artistic and philanthropic work, after four and a half years in prison, the rest of her sentence was pardoned and she was released. During that period she painted 275 works signed E.L.C. (“en la cárcel”), two murals and the scenery for the theatrical monologue of Adriano VII.
Her mural Sabiduría es Paz (Wisdom is Peace), commissioned by the Law School of UNAM, is on display at the Antonio Caso Library. She is the author of several books, including Prohibido pronunciar su nombre (1978).
The work of Sofía Bassi is included in the permanent collections of Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico; Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC; Selma Lagerloff Museum in Stockholm, Sweden; Museum of Modern Art, Tel-Aviv; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Pátzcuaro, Mexico; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Morelia, Mexico and Museo de Toluca, Estado de México.
The TEA Espacio de las Artes Museum in Tererife, Spain, which is home to the largest collection of works by Surrealist painter Oscar Domínguez, will present her first exhibition in Spain in September 2023.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Sofía Bassi’s death. The exhibition also coincides with the creation of the Sofia Bassi Foundation by her direct descendants, the Diericx Trouyet family, to honor her artistic legacy. The Foundation includes more than 60 original works, as well as the archive containing photographs of 860 of her works, her exhibitions and presentations, as well as testimonials and letters, and other documents related to her work as an artist.