The last time Vasuhan Poobalasingham was seen painting in Nicosia was when he was invited to work on the EKATE
(Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts) homage to French Greats.
Top Cypriot artists were interpreting, in full colour, the likes of Monet, Gauguin, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso,
Leger in the Melina Hall. But where are those paintings now?
Vasuhan had already completed a tawny, subtle Braque, and a magnificent complicated Kandinsky and got down
to painting a large canvas using a fabulous Klein blue.
This is the one when the master from Paris had nude females rolling over in beautiful blue paint to the strains
of a string quartet.
Klein’s result was of five bosomy, stomachy, cushiony-thighed enchantments. The colour became so famous
that forever after it has been called Klein Blue. Vasuan completed the ‘copy’ with distinction and even signed
it. Well he did it, didn’t he?
Vasuhan is from Sri Lanka and was here in Cyprus for a while.
A few years later but only the other week, in fact, Vasuhan was photographed in front of a large square of
canvas (at Centre Pompidou, Paris) which was fully taken over by Klein Blue done by the Frenchman himself. This was at the
Big Bang Show and across the room from the fabled Kasimir Malevich’s black canvas. A big bang of minimalism in colour;
white too, but on that day blue was top of the bill.
Then, as luck would have it, we turned into a room with a formation of Matisse’s backs, a multi-screen
full of Liz Taylor’s face, a melancholy row of Marlene Dumas’ international griefs and an extremely tall Giacometti
(male). And, here, as if EKATE had gone global, was the original (1960) Anthropomorphic de L’Epoque Bleue. As Vasuhan
walked by the canvas you could almost hear that string quartet again.
With the director of Bayadere, Annick Garin and poet Arvind Appadourai, I had been invited to open Vasuhan’s
exhibition at Bayadere.
Annick, who owns Bayadere, which sells the most beautiful hand-dyed, hand-woven materials and clothes from
Sri Lanka, is of Portuguese Sri Lankan descent, has a French mother and was brought up London, now living in Paris. She asked
the packed gallery to think about those who would have liked to have been at the opening, including Vasuhan’s parents
in Colombo (his mother at that moment wasin Jaffna) and his sister in Canada, also his friends in Cyprus.
"When anyone looks at a painting, what you see is according to your own culture with its symbolism and memories."
Arvind Appadourai is a Tamil from Madras, in India, who lives in Paris. He has had two books of poems published,
his Mudhal (First) Salambakam and Irandaam (Second) Salambakan.
Arvind said: "Vasuhan (at the moment) tends to paint in various styles and this is because he is finding his
way but it is lyrical abstraction which permeated his paintings most and these are his best".
The artist who worked in Nicosia paints his memories of Sri Lanka. He is influenced by his visits to great
French art exhibitions. He has visited Monet’s home for example. His own voice is emerging, however, which is all the
richer for absorbing other culture.
The opening was also multi-cultural, with musicians, poets and film makers from his own country. Senararth
Yapa, whom he knew in Nicosia, was there as was Theepan the photographer. The French - including a deputy mayor - and Britishers
too. Also the children of Sri Lankans who had been born in Paris.
There were cameras everywhere and at one moment when I was attempting in a clumsy fashion to cut a celebration
cake which sent fireworks into the air for each slice, the fairly bizarre imagery was sent live to Sri Lanka by TTN (Tamil
Television Network) It all seemed to be delightfully a long way from my usual gallery round in Nicosia.
At one very early hour a couple of days before the exhibition we travelled into the suburbs of Paris for Vasuhan
to be interviewed by TTN.
This breakfast-time schedule in Paris was to fit into the afternoon slot in Sri Lanka. He was interviewed
The exhibition boasted some very sensitive ‘memories’ of home, mostly landscapes, which were soon
snapped up by collectors.
But, the artist had also painted his Lyrical Abstractions, often referring to nature in France.
The artist loves nature and when with him you notice things you may have ignored. A pigeon nesting and feeding
chicks low down in a tree in a Paris street as if it had a personal cat-watcher bodyguard. A tiny brave bird perilously holding
onto a sprig in a potted plant by his high window which turned out to be made of of polistyrine.
In the show there were paintings of bats, peacocks and natural phenomena, including a large tsunami painting,
which will be exhibited in a larger mixed show in winter. Titles suggesting adornment. An earring. A piece of fabric.
Delicate eroticism creeps into the most illuminating works in the show.
The title of Vasuhan’s exhibitions has always been Apsara. The current one is Aspara 5. This name refers
to murals in Sri Lanka painted over five hundred years ago which contain beautiful women.
In one of his major ‘lyrical abstraction’ paintings there is a curving of drapes, a suggestion
of flesh with the whole picture saturated with sultry sensuous modesty.
Bayadere is at 23 rue Louis Blanc, 75010 Paris.
Iphigenia in Aulis in Droushia
HEINZ-Uwe Haus has been at Droushia this year to take over the newly-established post as Academic Chair.
Together with Nicos Shiafkalis, he has worked for the last months to build both an Academic and a Professional
Just in time, the new Instiutute opened this summer with its Professional Session.
For summer 2006, the Academic Session will be - in co-operation with the University of Delaware - open for
students from all over the world.
Part of this year’s fourweeks training is a workshop-production of Iphhigenia in Aulis, lead by Haus
and Nicos Shiafkalis.
The play is a tragedy, but an unorthodox one, due to its ending.
Haus says that the several comedic passages, such as the arrival of Clytemnestra and her first encounter with
Achilles may well be intended by Euripides.
"I am not with Kitto , the scholar, who collects all contradictions and non-standards to qualify the text
as a ‘thoroughly second-rate play’."
" I suggest always to look as long as possible to all irregularities in a text’s dramaturgy as hints
for theatricality. In my experience this is the most efficient way to find some social use value".
Asking Heinz-Uwe what did Euripides mean to say in writing the play as it is? Did he wish simply too entertain
an audience with a good plot? or is some "tragic illumination" to be found there?
He answered: "As theatre people we can be less abstract. For us the audience, the crowd, participating in
the performance, had the ‘tragic illumination’ in their mind too. Their view habits were socially determined.
"We witness conflicts that may have been regarded, in Jacob Burckhardt"s word, as ‘an inner fever of
this highly privileged national organism’. The "tragic hero" is once again the Greek nation, whose folly has to have
been involved in war".
Cyprus College of Art student David Webb who has recently completed the College’s Postgraduate Course,
has been shortlisted for the prestigious BP Portrait Award at London’s National Portrait Gallery.
The annual award is one of the most important in the art world, and carries a prize of 25,000 for the winner.
Following a record-breaking entry, this year’s exhibition presents over fifty works featuring a diverse
range of styles, which highlights and celebrates portrait painting today. The exhibition continues at the National Portrait
Gallery, London, until 25th September 2005.
Dr Freddy Decreus
Tonight at Cyprotel Droushia Heights, Dr Freddy Decreus, of the University of Ghent, Belguim, will give a
presentation "Orpheus and the Female Other".
Dr Decreus says" "The Orpheus myth, as demonstrated by its longevity in poetry and opera, has been incredibly
appealing in the history of the West."
This lively presentation will be followed by a buffet dinner at the special price of Θ6.50 per person.
All presentations are in English in the Conference Room at 6.30pm.
Please telephone 26 332351
Summer Exhibition at Kypriaki Gonia
KYPRIAKI Gonia, Larnaca’s summer exhibition has already opened and will continue until August 30.
The show has the works of 32 Cypriot, Greek and foreign artists.
There is an early Nikolaides portrait of Niki Katsantonis and also a Telemachos Kanthos, "Nightfall in the
Almond Trees." Amongst the portraits you can find paintings by Chistos Christou, MariaTouros and Christos Foukaras. The youngest
artist, Nikoleta Papamichael, paints herself.