26 March – 7 May 2022
YEARS OF CONFUSION
The Island Club is pleased to present Years of Confusion, a solo exhibition by Cypriot artist Koula Savvidou.
- Koula Savvidou was born on 29 February 1956 in London.
- When it came to time, Roman emperors did as they pleased. Days were added and taken off, weeks came and went. That way, they held on to power for two or three more months, collecting double or triple the taxes.
- That was until Julius Caesar decided to change the Roman calendar, but before he did so, in 46BC, he also added three months. He was assassinated a year later. He must have known something.
- The year preceding the calendar change came to be known as the “year of confusion”; it was the longest year in history, with a total duration of 445 days.
- Julius’s successor, August, named the new calendar “Julian”, after his uncle. These two emperors left behind leap years, the months of July and August, and their errors.
- The Gregorian calendar was established on 24 February 1582, by Pope Gregory XIII, in order to amend the errors of the Julian calendar.
- Koula Savvidou was born on 29 February 1956 of the Gregorian calendar. Like every leap year, 1956 was comprised of 366 days.
- Every four years, a day is intercalated into the month of February in order to bring the calendar into line with the astronomical year. That is what happened on 29 February 1956, when Koula Savvidou was born in London.
- KS: There were very serious reasons. Very serious reasons, though…
CP: You shouldn’t regret anything, because…
KS: I regret nothing.
CP: …in the past, careers weren’t made so quickly. Nowadays we want it all to happen in an instant.
KS: No, I was clear, the people I love count more than anything, and when there are health issues, enough with… We make art for the people we love. For people, in general. We make art for a reason, and…
CP: Yes, because it seems like sometimes you regret…
KS: No, that’s what I said to Apostolos, I have no regrets. If I were to start over right now, I would do the same. I regret nothing. Not a single thing.
- One could approach Koula Savvidou’s work at the bends of time amended.
- “All I know is that the hours are long, under these conditions, and constrain us to beguile them with proceedings which – how shall I say – which may at first sight seem reasonable, until they become a habit. You may say it is to prevent our reason from foundering. No doubt. But has it not long been straying in the night without end of the abyssal depths? That’s what I sometimes wonder. You follow my reasoning?”
– Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
- The first I ever saw of Koula Savvidou’s work was in the performance Waiting for Godot in early 1995 at Theatro Praxis, in Limassol. I was a student back then. At times I wanted to be a dancer, at times a director, I also wanted to make movies… None of that came to be.
- The actors’ bodies would sink inside these big sponges, you couldn’t see their shoes (those worn-out boots often worn by Vladimir and Estragon). In the middle of the stage stood a blue tree. Koula had painted it blue. In the second act, red leaves sprouted. I remember them, bright red.
- CP: I really like these works, and I like how they relate to each other, their scale in the space here in your living room…how they touch the ceiling.
KS: When we were in Limassol, I had a very small studio with a high ceiling…
CP: And you made these tall works.
KS: And I made these tall works, which I have, and had, by our bed, they were very beautiful.
CP: Do you call them Trees?
KS: No, Silent Discussions – Silent Agreements.
KS: There’s always a dialogue between the works. Yes. Because the fluorescent colours added another dimension, and at night, with the ultraviolet light, when the lights went off, a new landscape was formed, which was in dialogue with these works, and it was terrific, it is…
CP: Why this particular shade of blue?
KS: Look, to be honest, the works needed this colour, that’s just how it came out, and I love this colour in general, but they just needed it.
CP: So you tried other colours, too?
CP: Because I can see this shade of blue on other decorative objects in your house, too. Your windows are blue, the kitchen wall, the tiles. It’s almost everywhere.
KS: It’s entirely by chance.
CP: In the mounted works, toο.
KS: That has nothing to do with it.
CP: Anyway, it’s a shade of blue that’s almost dangerous…
KS: It’s magnetic.
CP: Your eyes are also a magnetic shade of blue.
KS: No, these are contact lenses.
CP: Oh, really? What colour are your eyes?
CP: They look good on you.
KS: They do? Thanks.
- It takes millions of years for the trunk of a tree to fossilise and turn into stone. Koula, of course, does it much more quickly.
- KS: I found it on the side of the road and I felt sorry for it, dear Christodoulos… That’s why I used to pick up everything that had been uprooted, so it could live a different life.
- “I wished for the tree to be uprooted in a show of solace … Farewell to you all, I am running away to save myself…!”
– Extract from Koula Savvidou’s note for Waiting for Godot
- For Silent Discussions – Silent Agreements, her exhibition at Diaspro Art Center in Nicosia in 1987, she collected uprooted trees from the streets of Limassol together with Elpidoforos.
- Koula Savvidou doesn’t only collect trees, but lots of other objects, too, which occasionally become her sculptures. In indeterminate times, at the bends of time amended.
- Some of these objects are: a. The steering wheel of a ship she found in a boatyard in Limassol in 1985, b. Rocks from an ancient harbour, c. An old weighing scale which she bought in 2020, d. A chandelier belonging to her great-grandmother, handed down to her by her father (she doesn’t remember when), e. An old stool, f. A pocket knife that her father gave her as a gift, also a long time ago, g. A stone column from her grandfather’s house, h. A chair left behind by English tenants in 1974, i. Two ceramic hives she found in her studio yard in 1988, which were incorporated in one of her sculptures last year, j. Three heater stands she bought from an antiques seller in 2021…
- These are not οbjets trouvés, as I’m sure she will agree. These are οbjets retrouvés (for it is Proust one finds sitting comfortably somewhere between Duchamp and Beckett).
- CP: I mean the work with the hives, the totem.
KS: This isn’t the first time you’re calling it a totem. It’s not a totem. The work is called I promise to come.
- A significant portion of her exhibition, Silent Discussions – Silent Agreements, is now in her living room. Curated to perfection, Koula Savvidou’s living room on Tenedou Street, in the Town Mansions apartment complex, marks a point of divergence from the tachometer of time. I wish you could see it.
- Koula Savvidou’s living room is also the most beautiful parκ in Nicosia, barely organic. I wish you could see it.
- “A country road. A tree. Evening.
Estragon: Nothing to be done.
Vladimir: I’m beginning to come round to that opinion.”
– Opening lines from Waiting for Godot
- “Again, one day every four years.”
- Body of work: So if you mix all of her works and all these dates in a shaker, and I mean all the works and all the years, and shake them persistently, you’ll get a cocktail. You could call this cocktail “Persistence Sour”. “Consistency”, maybe? No, no, “Persistence”! “Persistence Sour”.
- Genealogy: KS: From my mum’s side I got the music, the songs, the books… Troodos, the streams, the summer walks in the forest… With Nikolas, Panos, Tania, Mary, all my cousins. The same music that runs so deeply inside my works….! Grandma Revekka from my mum’s side had 10 children. Kyriakou from my dad’s side had 4 children. I came across all these people on my path, and I loved them dearly! I have 2 more sisters. Revekka is a lyric soprano. Savina is a classical ballet teacher. A young daughter, Nepheli, she studied theatre…!! Grandma to 2 wonderful boys.
- “Give us our eleven days!”
- KS: I wanted to make works that spoke to one another, and I found a rhythm in the colours, in their movement in the space…
CP: The movement is impressive, yes.
KS: Because they also move, they’re seismographs, when the movement begins… The other day there was an earthquake, and it was crazy in here with the sculptures. Let me show you … [they get up]. They were all moving around like this, yes…
- Koula turned 16, she is now a teenager.
Koula Savvidou (b. 1956, London) is a visual artist based in Nicosia, Cyprus. She graduated from the National School of Fine Arts, Lyon, in 1981. Her solo exhibitions include: On the Solitary Crossing of Impassable Passages, Diaspro Art Center, Nicosia (1995); Installations, Studio Interior, Limassol (1987); Silent Discussions – Silent Agreements, Diaspro Art Center, Nicosia (1987); Themelion Gallery, Limassol (1984). She participated in the 3rd Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean in Barcelona (1987), in the 17th Alexandria Biennale (1991), and the Meditarraneo per l’ Arte Contemporanea (1989).
Her group exhibitions include: anabasis, Rodeo Gallery, Athens (2022); Till we meet again, curated by Nikos Pattichis and Esra Plümer Bardak, CVAR, Nicosia (2021-2022); Revolv.er, curated by Maria Efstathiou, phytorio, Nicosia (2012); No Man’s Land, Diaspro Art Center, Nicosia (1992); 25 Cypriot Artists, The House of Cyprus, Athens (1992).
OPENING 26 March 2022, 17:00-21:00
DURATION 26 March – 7 May 2022
OPENING HOURS Thursday to Saturday, 12:00-18:00. Holiday closures: 22 and 23 April.