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HAMBIS – From Painting to Printmaking, 1970-1982

Opening of the new exhibition at the Hambis Municipal Printmaking Museum in Nicosia.

The exhibition will be opened by the mayor of Nicosia mr Constantinos Yiorkadjis οn Friday 3nd of June at 20:30

Hambis has dedicated his entire artistic life to printmaking, creating woodcuts, lithographs, etchings but mostly linocuts and silkscreen prints. Almost all his works stem from his deep love of Cyprus. He often depicts Cypriot landscapes, traditional architectural elements, elements from ancient Cypriot art as well as scenes from his home- land’s customs and traditions.

A large part of his work consists of illustrations of Cypriot folktales, where he often creates unified compositions of text and image, like in the old woodblock printed books. Through illustration series such as The Prince of Venice and Spanos and the Forty Dragons his work became widely known in Cyprus and abroad.

And while there is no doubt that the work of printmaker Hambis has reached people from the entire social spectrum and is as well-loved as that of few local artists, the temporary exhibition under the title “Hambis – from painting to printmaking, 1970-1982” offers the public a rare opportunity to get to know lesser-known aspects of the artist and his work. The exhibition traces his development from his first artistic steps to the politically charged works of the years after the Turkish invasion in Cyprus. It proposes a journey through the first period of Hambis’ work in printmaking, spanning from the first painted-and-scratched works from the 1970s through to the works he created until the end of his studies in 1982. This is a selection of some of his most emblematic works from his early period, which he created initially as a self-taught artist, later after his first lessons with Greek printmaker A. Tassos and finally during his studies in the Surikov Academy of the Arts in Moscow. Most of them are protest works, revealing the artist’s anguish during those troubled times and his deep anxiety for his homeland’s future.

Hambis firmly believes that an artist has a duty to communicate with the common people and thus, personally and artistically, he is aligned with their struggle. This idea was implanted in him by his teachers from the beginning of his career and it has remained a guiding principle in his work until today. His homeland’s art and culture are his arsenal. When he was still a young, self-taught artist he created works which had the mark of an authentic personal style, charged by the troubled historical period he was living through: The students of Pancypriaan Gymnasion throw stones at British colonial forces, The bombing of Tylliria, The dictatorship in Greece. There followed more mature historically inspired works during his years at the Academy, such as Cyprus after the Independence, his self-portrait

as a refugee with his family home in the background in his occupied village, Kontea, as well as a series of prints about the coup d’ état in Cyprus, the invasion and the life of refugees.

The exhibition also includes some of his prints depicting Moscow landscapes and illustrated Russian folktales.