THE ARTISTS I HAVE GROWN UP WITH | CHRISTOFOROS SAVVA (1924 - 1968)
Savva is an artist who died an untimely death, had he lived a long life it is most probable I would have known him, since he was friends with my father George Kyriacou. So instead, I grew up surrounded by much of his art work, but never knew him. His boundless imagination and versatile creativity have undoubtedly influenced me.
There are some striking similarities between Hero Kanakakis and Christoforos Savva in my opinion. Savva was also incredibly versatile in both the mediums he worked in and in the various schools of thought he engaged in via the numerous creative stages he went through. Both artists were constantly evolving and changing. Similar to Hero he also worked in textile and collage as well as painting and drawing. He too executed murals in architectural contexts. However, Savva worked in more mediums than Hero. He also made sculptures (using everything from wire used to create figures and forms, to plaster and found materials creating what I see as 3D collages, to pin and sequins reliefs and sculptures). He also made furniture (such as tables), objets d’art (such as mirrors) and so on. His creativity knew no boundaries. He turned his hand at virtually every creative medium until his untimely death at 44. One can only wonder what else he would have tried had he lived longer. I believe he would have always remained an authentic artist pushing the envelope on the art scene. I think he would have remained highly relevant and intellectually engaged as an artist. When one considers Savva’s generation and the context in time, his work can be seen as very innovative and ground breaking, not just with regards to the Cypriot art scene, but internationally. Picasso himself is said to have once met Savva and to have been shown a work by him, which he told Savva he liked. They apparently also bonded over politics, saying they were like minded artists since they were both communists.
His work also, always evokes for me, a strong sense of confidence and being sure of oneself, that I have always aspired to emulate. All great artists have this quality, as if nobody and nothing (not even poverty, lack of recognition, smear or slander) can get in the way of their true artistic mission at any given moment of their creative journey. It is strong, resilient self-belief. As if doing justice to their gift, is a duty they owe to the universe that gave it to them. As if they are returning a favour to the world, that nothing can get in the way of. As if creative authenticity is not an option but a way of being, living and existing. You have to be a very strong artist to have this quality. When recognition comes it’s easy to be confident, what about if you are only ever called crazy (as apparently Savva was)? That makes his work that much more remarkable.
I have always said I believe art is the soul materialised (for as long as the artwork survives). When you look at a person’s creativity you are looking at their core. So even though I never knew Savva, I can understand everything that matters about the man when I look at what he has left behind, and we are lucky enough to have a lot since he was so prolific.