Thursday, 31 January 2019, 19:00
31 January – 31 March 2019
The SPEL building renovations, in the heart of old Nicosia, have been completed, yielding the infrastructure for a significant cultural project: the new State Gallery of Contemporary Art – SPEL. This new site opens its doors to the public for the first time on the 31st of January 2019, presenting a large-scale survey show of Christoforos Savva (1924–1968), curated by Jacopo Crivelli Visconti. The exhibition is co-organised by the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture, Cultural Services and Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia, in conjunction with the participation of Cyprus in the 58th Venice Biennale (May – November 2019), which will be dedicated to Christoforos Savva.
Christoforos Savva is widely acknowledged as one of the most groundbreaking Cypriot artists of the 20th Century. In a relatively short period of time he produced an impressive and highly diverse body of works, ranging from the figurative paintings of the ‘50s to the abstract paintings, the sculptures, the experimentations with wire, cement, and fabric leftovers, as well as the forays in furniture design and the architectural interventions he undertook in the ‘60s. The coexistence of styles and the wide range of themes and references that appear in Savva’s work, from Greek and African Classical Art to Cypriot handicrafts, Folk Art, Informal Art, Pop Art, and avant-garde movements, all seem to suggest that strictly formal questions were not his main concern.
Christoforos Savva (1924 – 1968) was born in Marathovounos village, Cyprus, the second of six children in a peasant family. After serving in the Cypriot Regiment of the British Army during World War II, he moved to London for studies at St. Martin’s School of Art and the Central School of Art, before enrolling at Heatherley’s School of Art where he studied until 1953. During the next two years, he spent time in Cyprus where he presented his first solo exhibitions and became involved in the local artistic milieu, while being one of the founders of the Pancyprian Union of Art Votaries. In 1956, he returned to London and later moved to Paris for further studies at the Académie Montparnasse, under André Lhote. The end of the decade found Savva settling in Nicosia, where he quickly established himself as one of the leading artists in a vibrant art scene, both through his own art practice and through the activities of “Apophasis” [Decision] Gallery, Nicosia. “Apophasis” which he founded in 1960 in collaboration with Welsh artist Glyn Hughes, was the first independent cultural centre of the newly founded Republic of Cyprus. As a space where creative synergy and exchange could take place, the gallery was soon to become the epicentre of intellectual and cultural activity on the island, hosting numerous exhibitions, lectures, plays and film screenings. In 1968, Savva was among the six artists invited to represent Cyprus in its first official participation in the Venice Biennale of Art. Shortly after, he died suddenly in Sheffield.
Jacopo Crivelli Visconti is a free-lance critic and curator, based in São Paulo, Brazil. Born in Naples, Italy, in 1973, he holds a degree in Humanities from the University of Naples and a PhD from the University of São Paulo, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism. His book Novas Derivas [New Drifts], on walking artists and the meaning of drifting in contemporary art, was published in Portuguese by WMF Martins Fontes (Brazil) in 2014, and in Spanish by Ediciones Metales Pesados (Chile) in 2016. His texts and essays have appeared on contemporary art, architecture and design magazines worldwide, in addition to exhibition catalogues and artists’ monographs. Recently he has been appointed curator of the 34th edition of the Bienal de São Paulo, which will take place in 2020. Some of his previous projects include: Brasile – Il coltello nella carne, PAC – Padiglione d’arte contemporanea, Milan, Italy (2018); Matriz do tempo real, Museu de Arte Contemporânea, São Paulo, Brazil (2018); Memórias del subdesarrollo, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, USA (2017); Hector Zamora – Dinâmica não linear, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil (2016); Completely Something Else, Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia, Cyprus (2016); Sean Scully, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Brazil (2015); 12 Bienal de Cuenca, Equador (2014 – chief curator); Liberdade em movimento, Fundação Iberê Camargo, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2014); Alimentário, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2014).
Point Centre for Contemporary Art is a not-for–profit organisation in Nicosia, funded in 2012, and dedicated to the creative support and promotion of contemporary cultural production. It aims to foster a multi-disciplinary and critical engagement with new tendencies in art, architecture, film, music and sound, performance, discourse and thought. Since 2013, Point has commissioned and hosted solo shows of Cypriot artists, among those Haris Epaminonda (2013); Michael Anastassiades (2014); Christodoulos Panayiotou (2015); Phanos Kyriacou (2017); Stelios Kallinikou (2017); Lito Kattou (2018) and Maria Hassabi (2018 upcoming). Within the framework of its annual residency programme, Point has invited to Cyprus a number of international artists such as Rosa Barba, Pawel Althamer and Victor Costales & Julia Rometti, as well as acclaimed curators and theorists including Hans Urlich Obrist, Donald Albrecht and Susanne Pfeffer.
Aiming to preserve, present, interpret and promote Cypriot Art of the 20th and 21st centuries locally and internationally, as well as to establish a fundamental, participatory platform that fosters learning, research and the development of critical dialogue around art and culture, the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture have set in motion the procedures for the creation of the Cyprus Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Cyprus).
In order to determine the most suitable framework for the operation and management of the Museum, a study is being conducted in collaboration with the Visual Sociology and Museum Studies Lab of the Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts of the Cyprus University of Technology. In the context of this radical institutional reform, the existing exhibition spaces – the two branches of the State Gallery of Contemporary Art (Majestic and SPEL) in Nicosia and the Costas Argyrou Museum in Mazotos – are expected to operate under the new organisational structure and legal statute of MOCA Cyprus.
Until the establishment of the Museum, the newly renovated building of the State Gallery of Contemporary Art – SPEL will be hosting a series of events, starting with a major survey exhibition devoted to the historical Cypriot artist Christoforos Savva (1924–1968).
The Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture have set in motion the procedures for the creation of the Cyprus Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Cyprus). In the context of this institutional reform, the State Gallery of Contemporary Art – SPEL is expected to operate under the new organisational structure and legal statute of the Museum.
Tuesday – Sunday 10:00-18:00
(closed on public holidays)
STATE GALLERY OF CONTEMPORARY ART – SPEL
73 Ammochostou Street, 1016 Nicosia