Celebrating contemporary art in Cyprus

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Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, is a lively city, with over 10,000 years of history and civilisation.

The city and island’s cultural heritage is obvious in the many historic monuments and archaeological sites on display: prehistoric settlements; classical Greek temples; Roman amphitheatres and villas; byzantine churches; Gothic cathedrals; venetian fortifications and Muslim mosques.

But there is also the contemporary face of this ancient capital. Four exhibitions currently give us the chance to see Nicosia’s artistic landscape.

In one of the greatest artistic events in Nicosia, ‘The World of Cyprus’, has returned home after 37 years in Thessaloniki.

Painted by Adamantios Diamantis, the monumental work is an iconic and symbolic painting for Cypriots. Diamantis travelled the island for years, making hundreds of sketches, capturing the characteristics of the landscape and the people of his homeland.

The painting represents a frieze of traditional Cypriot life; a lifestyle that is almost extinct.

It is now being shown in the Leventis Municipal Museum.

Curator of the exhibition, Eleni Nikita, gave some further insight into the painting:

“Adamantios Diamantis painted this work, between 1967 and 1972. It is highly acclaimed, because of what the artist tried to achieve with this monumental painting,” she said.

The dimensions are huge – 17.5m in length and 1.75m in height. Diamantis tried not to show a complete group portrait, but rather some symbolic figures, characteristic of traditional Cypriot society.”

In 1976, ‘The World of Cyprus’ was put on display in the Telloglion Foundation in Thessaloniki. After 37 years, it has been returned permanently to its birth place, and Diamantis’ home.

Th painting will soon be hung in the new Leventis Gallery, which is due to be inaugurated in March.

Vartan Tashdjian is one of the most important contemporary Cypriot artists. His latest exhibition was held at the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOC) in Nicosia. It featured 32 new paintings, celebrating the artist’s 40-year career.

Of Armenian origin, Tashdjian was raised in Cyprus, and his paintings are a celebration of the island’s natural beauty. He has dedicated his life and his work to Cyprus, his adopted home, and its diverse land and seascapes are his greatest inspirations.

His style is a combination of cubism and impressionism.

Tashdjian spoke to euronews about his particular style:

“My source of inspiration is nature and especially Cyprus nature. As you notice, I present Cyprus nature in a completely different way. In Cyprus and especially at the seaside, I feel myself like coming home. If you ask me why, at a time like this, when our country is going through some difficulties, we are organising such an exhibition. My answer is: life goes on. We have to be optimistic. “

‘Costas Stathis: The unknown pioneer of contemporary Cypriot art’ introduces fans to the unknown and opulent talent of a great artist who spent most of his life in the small village of Askas in Cyprus.

The exhibition will be held in the Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts until December 5, which will mark the occasion of a hundred years since Stathis’ birth.

Niki Loizidi, an art historian and the curator of the exhibition, spoke enthusiastically to euronews about Stathis:

“Allow me to present his work in an impressive way: he is the Matisse of Cyprus. He would have no trouble holding his own next to the European Fauves. Unfortunately, we have only recently discovered him, and it is too late. We are already in the 21st century. However, his work is topical and very contemporary. Costas Stathis is really the pioneer of all pioneers for Cyprus, but also for Greece.”

Mariza Bargilly will present her 4th solo exhibition in the Diatopos Centre of Contemporary Art until November 28. Entitled ‘Walkthrough’, the subject of this collection is spaces. Spaces that she lives in, she visits, she knows very well. Even empty spaces, where there is no life. This emptiness aims to leave the spectator with a feeling of loneliness, abandonment, complete silence.

We asked her if there are many young artists in Cyprus who produce contemporary forms of art.

“I think there are many,” explained Bargilly. “We also have artists that have a strong presence abroad. We have taken big steps forward and there has been great improvement; not only in art, but also in theatre and dance. I think there is a very good base of raw materials here.”

Nicosia, it seems, is a contemporary crossroads of civilisations. In this capital, the past meets new trends. The rich history of the town is blended with modern art forms. Young artists live and work in the city, proving there is hope for a better future.

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