Europe

Cyprus

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Ancient and Modern
Arts and Crafts of nine millennia

Being closed to Africa, Asia and Europe, Cypriot culture has been shaped since time immemorial by numerous artistic influences, yet consistently created its own quite distinctive works of art.

Pottery vessels first appeared during Stone Age. They were colorfully painted and glazed and engraved with patterns. Cypriot terracotta art developed in Chalcolitic and Early Bronze Age. An example is the Sanctuary model from Vounous, exhibited in Lefkosia (Nicosia) Archeological Museum, portraying a celebration of mystic rites. The Late Bronze Age saw not only the manufacture of vases of imaginative shapes, but also of gold jewelry, ivory carvings and bronze statues.

From Classical period onwards, marble statues were created in addition to limestone ones. Byzantine frescoes are famed for their high quality and were painted during the period when Cyprus was part of Byzantine Empire. The best examples of those frescoes (11th to 12th centuries AD), were painted by artists from Constantinople. Later, during Frankish and Venetian periods, Byzantine art tradition continued with a local revivalist style influenced by Western Art.

From the end of 12th century, with Frankish Lusignan dynasty, came the advent of Gothic style, which developed distinctive character of its own in Cyprus. Magnificent cathedrals and abbeys were built and richly furnished, while the little mountain churches were given deep-sloping saddle roofs as a protection against the element of nature. Ceramics, such as bowls and beakers, are imaginatively adorned with scruffy artwork.

Contemporary Cypriot art started at the beginning of 20th century, deriving its inspiration from landscape and contemporary life of the people depicted in various, but always representational styles. However, the conditions of freedom created after Cyprus became independent in 1960, provided Cypriot artists with a new language and allowed them to continuously renew and broaden their expression . 1980s and 1990s added fresh dynamism and creative vigor.

Many of the trends, which influenced art in 20th century, particularly the various expressions of abstract conceptualism and minimalism, also influenced Cypriot artists, who developed their own aesthetic identity of contemporary Cypriot art.

A representative collection of painting and sculpture artists of 20th century is offered by State Collection of Contemporary Art in Lefkosia (Nicosia).

Lefkosia Art Center, which is housed in the building of the old power station, organizes important and prestigious exhibitions and promotes contemporary art and creativity. There are also municipal galleries and art centers in Larnaka and Lemesos.

 

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