Those were the days
Tonight at the Evagoras Lanitis Centre - the Carob Mill, in Limassol – you can see ‘1960-1980
- Dialogue With Contemporary Currents in Art and Search for an Identity. Cypriot Artists Born Between 1929 and 1949.’
This has sparked memories of one of the greatest painters of the period. Here are memory notes
on Christoforos Savva (d.1968) when I first met him.
There were no galleries in those days and the artists exhibited mostly at the Ledra Palace.
We both showed our work near the close of 1959. Mine was in the first week of December for five
I believe Diamantis had shown earlier in the year, possibly Kashalos as well.
Actually I already knew Diamantis and his wife, Nicoletta. They lived in Onasagorou Street, Nicosia.
Nicoletta used to make me kolokasi.
The walls of the Ledra Palace hotel were covered with beautiful brocade. You could not put nails
through the fabric, so wall space was rare.
And I remember Pol Georghiou - a perfectionist - popping in one afternoon and re-arranging many
of my paintings, which I had put neatly on chairs and he placed the canvases on the floor instead for better viewing. “Never
on a chair,” he pronounced.
Prices were on application. Making no comment on my work, he nevertheless invited me to his studio
whenever I was in Famagusta. I did go later and what a wonderful experience it was in the old part of town.
Being so impressed with Savva’s exhibition, I arranged to meet him for coffee in Lloyd
George Square - which is now Solomou Square - and we decided there and then to make a decision and open a gallery called Apophasis
which, of course, means Decision.
At that time Savva lived in Sophocleous Street near the Apollo Cinema but during that summer
we moved to Apollo Street very near Lemonias restarant and Ledra Street.
This became Apophasis.
Savva was a true original.
He had personal and deep connections with French masters but his talents were noticeable well
before he went to Paris. His colour was exceptional, both in paint and material.
His ability with fabric in collage is rooted in Cypriot folk work. There was a hidden strength
in all of his works.
He also had a great deal of humour and was brilliantly descriptive.
At a rival group’s lecture, during the time of Jane Russell’s very wide skirt and
low neckline, he commented to the leading lady: “Have you got your dress on upside down?”
Whilst viewing the textiles at Kaimakli last week, I kept remembering how he would pop into one
of the many tailors in Nicosia in those days and bring back snippets of cloth for his appliques.
Stars were welcome at Apophasis and Savva had remarkable contacts. Sergei Bondarchuk gave a lecture
at the gallery one evening.
For some reason or other I was asked to guard the gallery and stood there at the front entrance
with his secretary. I still don’t know why.
They were strange times, the early Sixties. When, with Simone Burdeau, the French painter, we
went to Beirut through UNESCO, I recognised a face at the exhibition. It was Philby, who later would be a front page photograph
on all newspapers after he fled to
There was certainly a lot going on.
Meanwhile, Savva carried on painting.