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Yiota Ioannidou

When did you decide to devote yourself to art?

To tell you the truth I can’t remember exactly when that happened. I can always remember myself painting. Maybe some inner need made things go towards this direction. You know, many people confuse their hobby with their job and a lot of people wait for their retirement to do their real job. Respectable scientists, doctors, lawyers have hobbies like gardening – a rare job which is quite well paid. The point is to love and enjoy what you do.

Did you carry on with studies in art after you finished school?

I studied art at the School of Fine of Art in Athens from 1989-1994, with teachers Panayiotis Tetsis and Rena Papaspyrou.

Coming back to Cyprus what was the art scene like? What was your opinion as a young artist?

Coming back to Cyprus I realized that visual arts had been divided into two kinds, Coarse and primitive. On the one hand, art that uses colours on a piece of material and on the other hand, art which uses other materials and objects. The first artists were all good; the others all bad. A silly division that creates an unnecessary problem for art. It proved destructive, especially for young artists. Everybody wanted to belong to the good group, so that they could create a respectable name in art history. But is that how you make a name in art  history? Now thankfully things have changed.

Did you find any problems while establishing your own personal expression?

Definitely, there were times where I felt weak, I was not confident for what I had done, almost always, I felt that something was not going well. Those were the times when I had to attack and improvise and hope that there would be a reason of existence for my work.

Tell us about your work, what inspires you?

Often I have an idea that is triggered when I suddenly see something that catches my interest. That idea is something I will be thinking about for a long time and just then, it comes into substance. I keep these ideas in my mind without drawing or doing anything. Some time afterwards, I collect the basics and create many outlines. Sometimes, I might not finish these pieces and leave them in a corner of my workshop. That is how they mature. Just because my work is created spontaneously, it doesn’t mean that is has been created at that very instant.

Is there a specific piece of work that you favour more than others?

Every painter goes through different phases during his artistic evolution. Sometimes these phases are interesting and sometimes they are not. What matters is that a piece of work is created that will mark the artist’s course. It doesn’t matter what you paint only that the result should justify you. There were parts of my artistic voyage that were not so successful. But they became the basis for my next project. That is more or less how the chapter “Apodomisis” 2005-2006 was created which I believe was a turning point in my artistic quest.

Can you survive solely on art today?

Most of the artists are in an average economical situation. Artists can never exploit their work either because they sell their art too cheap, or even worse, too expensive. The “interesting” part here is the job of people that know marketing. But does the aesthetical value equal the economical value? Who can decide about the real value of a piece of art? Of course this has nothing to do with the artists.

In your opinion, what does a Cypriot artist need to do to be recognized not only in Cyprus but also outside of Cyprus?

There is no recipe for this. The difference that makes a piece of work significant and unique is almost indiscernible. You can’t explain or analyze this difference. Somewhere there hides the mystery and beauty of art. Why is Picasso so great? Because he had the charisma of self-destruction and, of course, the ability to draw. Why is Michael Angelo so great? Because he had passion and resistance and of course the phenomenal talent. Why is Bonar so great? Because he had the sense of colour and poetry of everyday life. Which of all these artists should we follow? I would say that we should follow what is around us, inside us and what we usually don’t believe is worth it.

Tell us about your previous and upcoming exhibitions.

My first chapter was “Fterougismata” where the birds that fly symbolize free movement in space. After that was the chapter “Sfakta” – the end of the flight that come from falling. Then was the chapter “Skilia” that also symbolized free movement in space. Then is “Apodomisis”, the title of the chapter of work I did from 2005 to 2006. And my latest chapter is “Thalassinos Periplous”  finished in 2007.

Usually when I talk about my work, I talk about what I have not managed to paint. That’s how I fill in the plastic poverty of the project, with my intentions that were not fulfilled. I think my problems are the same with other painters. What matters is the result. Let’s take for example, the chapter of my work in 2005-2006 “Apodomisis”. My first intentions were to draw big figures changing their form, which I did not put in order. I left this intention, which was the first stimulant, very early. What counts is not the intention or the amount of labour the artist puts in, but the final outcome. In any case, art finds its own way which we simply cannot schedule.

Interview by Natalie Hadjiadamos

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