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An art explosion in Cyprus > ‘Supernova-Constellations’ June 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Cyprus.

Works of geometric abstraction go on show in Nicosia this week in what promises to be one of the most exciting exhibitions of the summer

Word of mouth has it that ‘Supernova-Constellations’ is set to be one of the biggest exhibitions of the summer. So this must be a show about the weird and wonderful workings of outer space, right? My mind drifts to the most impressive, explosive phenomena that occur at the end of a star’s life-cycle. The matter of a star undergoes tremendous condensation and then explodes, releasing huge amounts of energy. The supernova explosion, which lasts several days, is fierce and bright as millions of stars collide. At the end, the clouds of dust released not only assist in the creation of new stars, but also enrich them with heavy elements.

I’m somewhat bewildered however when I find out that this is not an exhibition about space at all. It’s actually a contemporary art show all about geometric abstraction, set to open at the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Old Power House, on Friday. With 27 artists from Britain, Greece and Cyprus participating, it consists of two elements. ‘Supernova’, featuring British artists, was first curated by Caroline Douglas at the British Council, and in response to this, was followed by the creation of ‘Constellations’ featuring Cypriot and Greek artists, curated by Yiannis Toumazis.

Failing to see the connection between ‘supernova-constellations’ and geometric abstraction in art, I’m quickly assured that the name of the exhibition was not arbitrarily given. Geometric abstraction in art, once considered the pinnacle of Modernism, suffered successive heavy blows during the last few decades of the 20th century. It was proven to be neither as simple nor as lucid as its exponents suggested. This is where a new generation of artists have decided to turn the tables, inspired to reinterpret geometric abstraction, exploiting the initial explosive potency and energy of the art form in their own way.

“The artists have taken geometric abstraction as we know it to have been in the 50s and 60s, and created a new explosion, an explosion of ideas and inspiration that stems from art of the past,” says Toumazis. Rather than disregarding geometric abstraction as a long gone art form, it has been transmuted and is exploring new worlds. “While utopian ideas of modernism may have failed, geometric abstraction remains a very strong word in the vocabulary of the history of art,” Toumazis explains.

And while abstraction lies very much at the core of this exhibition, the works themselves cover a wide range and diverse spectrum with paintings, sculptures, video and installations on show. “It’s full of personal comments,” Toumazis says, “each taking a different direction and playing with different mediums.” Some artists show that abstraction can be injected with wit and suspense; others show the way in which dexterous modifications can lead to unusual variations of perception.

You certainly won’t be able to ignore the large sculptural work of Liam Gillick who has created a super sized perspex cube that forces you to walk around its edges and explore the surrounding space. The ‘Monument’ video by Jane and Louise Wilson is also notable in its approach to Victor Pasmore’s celebrated ‘Apollo Monument’ at Peterlee. In an elegiac manner, children are shown playing in a concrete structure unaware that it was once a special monument of the modern aesthetic.

As for the Cypriot participants in the show, Stelios Votsis’ work cannot go unmentioned. Although he belongs to a past generation of artists, he’s passionate about the idea of geometry on canvas and continues to create with a certain freshness that Toumazis felt could not be left out of the exhibition. Theodoulos Gregoriou’s glass cube, on the other hand, introduces the viewer to geometry of continual transformation and its never ending multiplications towards infinity.

The work of the young Greek artists is also very interesting. Nikos Kanarelis superimposes old images on modern work to create fresh new ideas on canvas. Athanasios Argianas is a musician who tries to visualise his compositions in a geometric way, creating enticing installations.

“It’s a striking show, full of explosive colours that is really something different. It’s one of the most impressive shows ever presented at the power house,” says Toumazis. Special guided tours have been planned to fill you in on all the little details worth being aware of as you view the works, and special educational programmes for children have also been organised.

Supernova-Constellations > A major two-fold exhibition examining how new generations of artists from Cyprus, Greece and U.K have been inspired to interpret geometric abstraction. Opens June 15, 8pm, until July 22. Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Old Nicosia. Tuesday-Saturday 10am-3pm and 5pm-11pm. Sunday: 10am-4pm. Closed Mondays. For info call 22 787400.

Other events within the framework of the exhibition > Guided Tours for the Public >
June 16 >
A tour by Deborah Prosser and Yiannis Toumazis, 11am.
June 27, July 11 and 18 > A tour by Andrea Constandinou, 6.30pm.
For information and reservations call 22 787400.

Let’s Colour the Stars > Children’s educational programme beginning with a tour of the Supernova-Constellations exhibition and continues with creative activities at the new Educational Centre for Children of the Old Power House. For children 8-12 years old. June 28, July 5, 12 and 19. 5pm-7pm. For info call 22 797400.

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