Colour once was key to politics and trade in the Mediterranean. Fabric manufacturing, medicine, painting, and cosmetics alike depended on pigment supplies and colour binding agents like alum. Main alum resources lay in the Eastern Mediterranean. So Rome banned alum imports to curb Constantinople’s influence. Yet, despite the embargo, around 1500 the agent was still in circulation via the Venetian trade network, including Cyprus.
The Future of Colour takes this story as the point of departure for invoking the spirit of unstoppable exchange — in the key of living colour. Today’s political imagination seems to be stuck in apocalyptic scenarios of cultures at war (West vs. East). We rarely ask what it could mean for life to continue and our exchanges to create a future. Rejecting the false securities of catastrophic thought, the show pays homage to the vibrant insecurities of life and the trade of ideas, via painting and its sister arts.
To defy the endgame is to grasp past and future, West and East, as a fluid continuum that invites movement. This is the challenge Polys Peslikas has set himself. His new paintings, shown in the pavilion, draw on fragments of historic imagery. Peslikas zooms in on details of Venetian paintings and Modernist collages. He extracts colours, patterns, and ornaments that resonate across time. Mixing these ingredients, Peslikas performs an alchemy that liquefies time. A 500 year difference dissolves into the rhythm and rhyme of tonalities and textures. No occident, no orient, but an ocean of undulating forms, layered colours and differentiated details here come to define the world.
In opening up the horizon of experience, Polys Peslikas’ paintings set the stage for hosting further artistic exchanges. A series of cartoonishly oversized newspapers provide the platform for these transactions, conducted by three parties, invited as special guests:
Nicosia-based, internationally active, artist group Neoterismoi Toumazou are named after the local novelty shop of one member’s grandfather. Importing and exporting influences, they trade in many languages: poetry, performance, design, music and fashion. In her stories, Beirut born, New York based writer Mirene Arsanios interlaces biographies and histories. Her new piece of writing, Emergency kids, finds her revisiting memories of Cyprus where she briefly lived, before returning to Beirut at the end of the civil war. Places and words, remembered from childhood coalesce into one another, and the time is always now. Legendary ceramic artist from Famagusta, Valentinos Charalambous joins the conversation. Having travelled, made and taught art, for decades, in Baghdad and Limassol, he has been an inspiration to many, with stories to tell and a love louder than bombs for the arts of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The show invokes the spirit of the Eastern Mediterranean as a zone where routes cross, travellers meet and trade in a poetic knowledge that may render past and future in fresh colours.
Polys Peslikas is a painter based in Berlin and Nicosia. He was born in 1973 in Limassol, where renowned ceramic artist Valentinos Charalambous lives and works today, his open workshop having been a school to many. Born in Famagusta in 1929, Charalambous taught and practiced his art in Baghdad from 1957 till 1983. Beirut is where New York-based writer Mirene Arsanios was born in 1980. She is the author of The City Outside the Sentence (Ahskal Alwan 2015). Artist group Neoterismoi Toumazou are Maria Toumazou, born 1989 in Nicosia, Marina Xenofontos, born 1988 in Limassol, and Orestis Lazouras, born 1994 in Nicosia. They do art, performance, poetry and fashion, they travel and run their own space on 69A Aischylou St. in Nicosia.
Walk up the Fondamenta Arsenale towards the Porta Magna framed by the two Arsenale clock towers. Cross the Ponte de L'Arsenal o del Paradiso bridge in front of the towers. Pass the Lion of Piraeus and keep walking down the Fondamenta de Fazza L'Arsenal until you reach Campo S.Martin. The small Ponte Storto bridge ahead of you leads directly to the entrance of The Cyprus Pavilion.