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Yours sincerely March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Arts Exhibitions Cyprus.
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An exhibition of works of art collected by one of the island’s banks over the last 25 years goes on show in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Laiki Marfin Bank has spent the last 25 years collecting works of art, a selection of which has been included in “Yours Sincerely”, an exhibition opening this week. But there is so much on display, so many items, that you might say the exhibition doesn’t consist of paintings and sculptures, just things, or, in Foucault’s terms, objects.

Foucault used to say that a postmodern artist is one who does not like to be labelled, not even understood really. Once you know what to expect from him, he will change style, just to impress. These artists are secretive and their art is a secret. One of their principles, as Boulez stressed, is to represent what in art is usually only referred to, hidden, unnamed. Metaphors, for example, allegories, or symbols all point to something outside the canvas. In postmodern art there are no such things and there is not an outside.

That is not to say that the contemporary artist does not want to communicate: on the contrary, he wants to be just like the observer, and he wants the observer to be just like him. When the artist sets out to compose his work, he struggles to come to terms with his background, his education, he wants to be a virgin when it comes to inspiration and he does not like anyone to be able to name his predecessors. It is as if he is trading places with the audience and when he displays his work he wants to see the same puzzled eyes, the same effort in understanding, or, rather, shaping the object in front of him, just like a creator shapes his work.

Something has to be said, again, about the hosting of exhibitions at the Nicosia Municipal Art Centre. The spatial disposition is not great and the viewer sometimes struggles to separate one work of art from another. Brown sculptures, such as the interesting “Mother/Life cycle” by Angelos Makrides, are set against a brown background, in this case the polymorphic, Medusa-like painting “Roots” by Andreas Charalambides. Sculptures and objects are set in curious, not always efficient, ways although it must be said that many sculptors seem to have intended their work more as an “alto-rilievo” than as a 360° volume, Koumides’ “Folding Screen” is an example.

In general, it is not clear why certain works of art have been put next to one another. It is not chronological, nor chromatic, it has nothing to do with similar art tendencies nor with art schools.

In the first room, after the welcoming room with the candidly ironic “The canticle of the Muses” by Klitsa Antoniou, are many of Theodoulos Gregoriou’s creations. This artist shows a consistency in his calm inspiration that has not abandoned him through the years. His paintings look like sculptures and the sculptures are pure pictorial forms.

In the other rooms the works are all of a good level. A work by Umit Inatchi, certainly not one of his best, still sets the standard for the only true and valuable abstract, symbolic work on the island. I cannot stress enough how much Greek and Cypriot artists become original when they go back to their origins. Some of them believe that they need to be European to be modern, au contraire, I find that Yiannacouris’ “Archaic figures”, a work almost 30 years old now, is more modern, more accomplished than any attempt or wink at cosmopolitan modernity. The puzzling “Where is my head II” by Yioula Hadjigeorghiou sounds, and looks, like a practical joke, not a work of art. Instead, Yiannacouris’ double figures, hieratic, old but at the same time modern stand tall and can even display the pleasure of playing with materials, faking the veins of a piece of marble, hinting to the pleats of fabric.

Another good example is Charalambides’ “Roots”, scary as the Medusa’s head in Rubens’ famous portrait and narrative like a contemporary short story about the drowning of the past. I would like to conclude with the sarcasm in Angelos Makrides’ “White Conspirators” because sarcasm is such an important trait in contemporary art, and something, along with irony, especially self-irony, so absent in Greek-Cypriot art. It is a circular sculpture of black and white pigeon-like objects, the black ones encompassing the white ones. Solitary, outside the circle, an object with wings, the only one with wings, observes the scene. The artist and the observer finally meet and they are one and the same.

Yours Sincerely > Selections from the Marfin Laiki Bank Art Collection. Until April 20. Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Old Power House, 19 Apostolou Varnava Street, Nicosia. Wednesday-Saturday 10am-3pm and 5pm-11pm. Sunday 10am-4pm. For information call 22 7974000.

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