With ‘islands’, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed,
but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear.
‘Islands’, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret,
their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.*
Lefteris Tapas’ Archipelagos is an ambiguous and deeply political visual poem that explores the identity of his country Cyprus,** an odd specimen of land, people and cultures, with a rich history and an alluring colonial past, caught between the East and the West, surrounded by sea, brutally divided and separated into two. Is culture something we own or something we share? Can art create a virtual space, more real than real space? Can it help us contemplate on various alternative narratives? Does it have the power to heal? To transform? What defines our identity as people? What is our relationship to trauma? And how can we finally move on?
Tapas’ latest work constitutes the most complete sample of his continuous survey on human existence. For this show the artist returns to the three archetypes; earth-water-sky and reconfigures the present’s attention to history and to his own identity, seeking the universal through today’s Cyprus, which is a postcolonial mosaic of distinct and not particularly integrated communities, ethnicities and nationalities. With a series of little islands made with papier-mâché in such a way that they simulate rocks and soil -an emotional material packed with symbolism- with a hallucinatory paper lace of floating waves and a floating universe of stars, his direct takes on identity and metamorphosis evolve into something dreamy and at the same time quite abstract.
The production process is a space of contemplation for Tapas. All works are hand-made, painted or cut-out by hand with care and attention. The country, which resembles a dot on the map, multiplies and spreads out its various versions in the gallery space. The island installation occupying the large left wall of the gallery is made entirely of pulp, graphite and rare natural earth pigments mined from various quarries of the island – some of which are currently banned and/or abandoned. For the creation of the paper pulp, the artist uses pages from Phileleftheros (the largest daily newspaper of Cyprus) which his father has been reading and collecting for over 30 years. On a large table in the centre of the gallery there is a lace made of cut-out paper that looks like a restless sea and on the opposite wall a series of nocturnal skyscapes, pictured exactly as he remembers observing them for years during his evening duty shifts in the army.***
Through his reflection on the island’s rich history and culture, with all its geographical and political peculiarities, with stories of friendliness, discomfort and hostility, ghosts as well as allies, Tapas moves from the regional to the universal in a way that makes his Archipelagos neither entirely a record, nor a construct of his mind or imagination. After all, what we enjoy in his oeuvre is not the precise and detailed recording of history, nor the tranquility and harmony of the pictures he creates, but the answer he gives to a question of ours or rather the question that he ultimately asks us, forcing us to answer.
* A paraphrase from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.
** Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel, north of Egypt, and southeast of Greece.
*** Military service is mandatory to all men in the Republic of Cyprus. They are also obliged to serve the National Guard as regular reservists.
Lefteris Tapas (b. 1974) lives and works in Limassol, Cyprus. He studied Fine Arts at the Kent Institute of Art & Design and at the University of Kent, UK. Archipelago is his fifth solo show. He has participated in various group shows in Greece, Cyprus, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands and Bosnia-Herzegovina and his work can be found in public and private collections across Europe. In 2009 he was commissioned a monumental permanent installation for Larnaca International airport proposed by Yiannis Toumazis. The installation is inspired by the Cypriot flora and fauna and adorns the glass backdrop of the entire check-in area of Hermes Airport in Larnaca.
Opening: 11/01/2019 at 8:00 p.m.
Duration: 11/01/2019- 23/02/2019
Exhibition opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday: 12 a.m. – 3 p.m. / 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday: 12 a.m. – 4 p.m.
CAN CHRISTINA ANDROULIDAKI GALLERY
Address: Anagnostopoulou str 42, 10673 Athens