The world of fine art
I couldn’t make the opening of ‘1960 -1980, Dialogue with Contemporary Currents in
Art and Search For An Identity”
on April 24, but went down to Limassol from Nicosia on the 30th of the month at about 7pm.
The weather, being peculiar these days, was dreary on the way but as sunset was approaching the
whole of Limassol bay was lit up like a glittering diamond necklace.
Maybe it was reflections from windows in those huge buildings. Had the municipality discovered
a genius lighting artist who could control sunsets?
A local Turner prizewinner, no doubt.
However, as soon as we reached Limassol, the mirage vanished and we passed long passages of near
seafront areas which were not only empty but terribly dull, as if evening activities had been called back to another section
Limassol had seemingly gone Victorian.
The Carob Mill, where the exhibition is, was not easy to find, either and as the work on display
was billed as the period 1960 -1980 - not a happy time for many - I expected the worst.
However, as soon a I entered the Evagoras Lanitis Centre I was in another world - the world of
Superbly curated, spacious and, in a strange way, neat. And I mean this in a most positive way.
Paintings by different artists “belonged” to each other. There appeared (in fact there is) to be a “Cypriot
Style” and it is quite unlike anything else. Light and almost untroubled, yet very strong as if the artists were too
busy surviving to moan and express emotion for attention.
Memory Lane, too. There is the “Tragic Irony, The Enclaved Animals” by Antonis Antonios.
Actually, I remember this 1970s piece being on my balcony when I lived near the PIO.
It was near a huge shared piece titled “The Road to Famagusta”. During that period
of fear and concern Antonis could be seem driving on his motorbike around Nicosia with symbolic references on the handlebars.
Later during that dangerous time there was the wonderful “piece” by Nicos Kouroushis
on the airport roundabout, where everyone huddled around for a sort of aesthetic security.
Where is it now?
Christoforos Savva dominates because he was able to use very simple forms emoting power and expression.
They had a past and a reason.
Some of the extreme hard edge work has not survived the years, maybe because style had overtaken
need. Not Kate Stephanides, though, whose work is always superb.
Sculpture has survived the years considerably, however, especially those linking “real”
objects with gallery class.
The painting “Liturgy,” by Skotinos stands out and was certainly ahead of its time
for theme as well as organised complexity.
In fact every work in the exhibition is a work of art. Cyprus art of this considerable standard
must be seen more abroad. Curated with brilliance such as this one.
Here is the informative opening by Catherine Louis Nikita, Director of the Evagoras Lanitis Centre.
“The Evagoras and Kathleen Lanitis Foundation, in cooperation with the Cultural Services
of the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture, organised in 2006 an exhibition, with a view to paying tribute to the early
years of the modern Cypriot art by the ‘60s, collecting therefore the pioneers’ work from Adamantios Diamantis
to Christophoros Savva.
“Enhancing this successful initiative, we have then decided to pursue this introductory
path. We have actually decided to reveal the artistic part as it is substantiated between 1960-1980 through presenting the
work of 35 artists born between 1929 and 1949.
“Furthermore, such presentation is a kind of tribute, indeed, towards this new artists’
generation who, coming back from Europe where they studied, pledging for new theoretical, philosophical and artistic ideas,
they try to consolidate their very presence as well as their different approach compared with their Cypriot masters and to
attract society’s interest in new forms of expression, further considerations, new way of thinking and further plastic
“The 1974 events put an end to this verve; some people leave for abroad again, some others
stay on the island but they all keep going on with their interaction and identity research. Their vigour enables founding
the dialogue with modernism and going through a new era in the contemporary art history of Cyprus.
“Thanks to the analysis and research work done by Andri Michael, art historian and mentor
of this exhibition, we are revealed the marks of an emblematic era, being already part of the newly established Republic of
Cyprus art history.
“We thank once more the Ministry of Education and Culture Services and mainly Dr Eleni
Nikita, Head of Cultural Services for providing early support as experts to carry out this ambitious project, which we hope
will become the research platform for the public to feel and understand better this period, being one of the major turning
points in Cyprus art history.”
This excellent introduction is included in an exceptionally detailed and well-illustrated catalogue
about the exhibition curated by Dr Andri Michael, which can be acquired at the Carob Mill where the exhibition is.