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Print (MA)

Savvas Theofanous

Savvas Theofanous was born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1990 and is a London based artist. He received his Integrated Master’s Degree in Painting and Printmaking from Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA) in 2016. 

In 2019 he spent 4 months in Japan as part of Kyoto City’s University of Arts Exchange Programme, in conjunction with the Royal College of Art. Inspired by his research into natural motifs, in Kyoto he drew parallels between Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) and his work with paper. With both media he employs ideas of layering, concealment, uncovering, fading, revealing and visual deconstruction, in order to underline and expose the cultural, social and political.

His exhibitions include Double Vision at Cromwell Place 2021; The book is a container at Southwark Park Galleries 2021; Against the Grain at Southwark Park Galleries 2020; International student exhibition at Kyoto City University of Arts, Art Gallery @KCUA 2019; Group Showcase Print at Hockney Gallery 2019.

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Print (MA)

My practice involves working with painting, printmaking and collage, and unpacks how images are represented or abstracted depending on their political and cultural context. The images I draw from represent the underlying formal structures of Cyprus’s political and societal traditions. In the process of examining and redefining my Cypriot identity, I came across an extensive vocabulary of familial iconography, which includes family photographs and traditional memorabilia. This archive has since become the visual language of my work, which I overlay, repeat and strip down to its essential elements, in order to both unlearn and relearn the contested histories of this Eastern Mediterranean island and its culture. 


Driven by strategies of layering and repetition, my work explores the question of transparency, and the emotional, material, conceptual and political methods of concealment that we use daily. For this reason, the use of paper underlines my creative practice. The fragility of paper marks the juxtaposition between permanence and impermanence and is used to unveil the frailty of the ideologies that shape us. Its foldability and adaptability make paper a transformative medium that I often marry with other materials that have a central role in Cyprus’s production; copper, gold and silver.


By studying the hidden meanings of Japanese flower arrangements (Ikebana), I draw parallels between the Japanese and Cypriot culture. Both islands have a heavily charged political history, and are committed to the preservation of tradition, craftwork and national mythology. My research on the poetic nature of Japanese aesthetics illuminates Cyprus’s historical background; it aims to expose the hidden narratives of its society and vice versa.



Photo credit: Art Sokoloff


New Year Arrangement — Screen print on gold paper, 100 x 70 cm, 2021
New Year Arrangement — Detail

Challenging established cultural and social structures is central to my work. Starting from my research into Eastern Mediterranean iconography, I expanded into the study of another politically charged culture. This New Year’s flower arrangement is a characteristic example of the tradition and form that define Ikebana and Japanese aesthetics. The work’s gold layer resists the temporality of the arrangement and places it outside of space and time. By encasing it in a shiny veil, I aim to defy the process of decay that is associated with dying flowers and to immortalise a tradition that is by definition trapped in time.


Photo credit :Art Sokoloff

Medium:

Screen print on gold paper

Size:

100 x 70 cm
To Arrange Poetry — Mixed media on archival paper, 100 x 70 cm, 2021
To Arrange Poetry — Detail
To Arrange Poetry — Mixed media on archival paper, Installation view, 2021
To Arrange Poetry — Mixed media on archival paper, Installation view, 2021

The archive of images that I use comes from the records I took of Ikebana flower arrangements and other relevant cultural symbols during the time I spent in Japan.

In 2019 I spent 4 months in Japan as part of Kyoto City’s University of Arts Exchange Programme. Inspired by my research into natural motifs, in Kyoto I drew parallels between Ikebana and my work with paper. With both media I employ ideas of layering, concealment, uncovering, fading, revealing and visual deconstruction, in order to underline and expose the cultural, social and political.

Photo credit: Art Sokoloff

Medium:

Mixed media on archival paper

Size:

100 x 70 cm
Stillness — Mixed media on copper, 50 x 53 cm, 2021

Photo credit: Art Sokoloff

Medium:

Mixed media on copper

Size:

50 x 53 cm

A. G. Leventis Foundation