Personae | Cyprus in Venice
Andreas Karayan
Eleni Nikita

In Venice, Andreas Karayan showed a series of seven large oil paintings entitled Personae, depicting sombre images of ascetic faces, reminiscent of the Egyptian Faiyum death masks – the prestigious form of art closely connected to Greco-Roman traditions and Byzantine iconography, witnessing the lingering influence of Greek settlements in the Faiyum area since the Ptolemaic period. The artist is fascinated by the closely intertwined ancient histories of Greece and Egypt, as much as by the significant modern contributions of the Greco-Egyptian Diaspora community. His work, stemming from the painting series Homers 2000 and overtly influenced by Tsarouchis and Kavafis, is underpinned by a preoccupation with literary and philosophical notions such as purity, divinity and the classical worship of beauty. While preparing for Venice, Karayan mourns for a friend who dies of AIDS, and feels shocked by the war violence in former Yugoslavia. His state of mind becomes infiltrated in the work, which develops into an installation including a subversive twist: a 2-minute long video entitled Silent Movie, epitomizing the sense of decay brought about by the death of the erotic, of Eros, or intimate love, as well as addressing the relationship between nudity and television. During preview, the video was banned for obscenity by Spazio Thetis, the venue hosting the Cyprus pavilion, and was removed from the exhibition, to be replaced by another one (entitled Flowers) expressing similar ideas. The Personae series was consequently shown in a solo exhibition in Lia Rumma Gallery, Naples.

Andreas Karayan

Andreas Karayan (b.1943, Nicosia) lives and works in Cyprus and Egypt. He studied Medicine at the University of Athens, where he graduated in 1967. He traveled to London for specialization but he was drawn by the culture of the late ’60s and left Medicine to study painting at Camberwell School of Art (1972) and Central School of Art (1973). He then studied engraving in Germany and spent some time in Berlin. Karayan represented Cyprus at the 49th Venice Biennale of Art.

  • Eleni Nikita

    Born in Nicosia. She studied Social Sciences at the University of Geneva. She is a Ph.D. of the University of Athens in the history of Art. She worked at the Center for Social Research (1971-1977) and in the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture (1977-2009), which she served as director from 2003 to 2009. She was for many years the representative of the Ministry of Education and Culture in the Committee on Culture the Council of Europe and various committees of the European Union. He was also Secretary General of the Cyprus National Committee of UNESCO from 2001 to 2009. He is the author of many studies, works of art criticisms and books on modern art. Her book “Christoforos Savvas, the beginning of a new era in Cypriot art”, was honored with the 2009 State Prize of Literature in the essay-research class. He was honored by the French government with the Order of the Knight of the Order of the Academic Phoenix and by the Austrian government with the Honorable Cross for Arts and Sciences. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and the Society of Historic Art of Greece. Since 2012 she has been working with the Leventis Art Gallery as a curator of the Cypriot collection of the LA Leventis Foundation.


Spazio Thetis (Arsenale Novissimo)