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Nisou, 1978



Lefteris Economou (1930-2007)
Nisou, 1978
oil on canvas
AGLC 463 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

In Lefteris Economou’s long career, nature was his greatest teacher in the effort to translate his subjects using artistic terms; it helped him to solve problems and proceed in establishing his own personal style. As he was inclined to say, it was not that he copied nature, but simply that nature offered him visual stimuli. By recreating it, Economou celebrated it, while at the same time seeking to express and share his feelings and worries. An enduring concern of his was how to render the distinctiveness of Cypriot nature through an artistic idiom. His position that art must be governed by a spirit of place was something he often stressed in the interviews he would give to the press from time to time.

Nisou constitutes one of his most archetypal efforts to transubstantiate artistically what he saw as the distinctive attributes of Cypriot natural space. It is for this reason that light and colour were elevated to constant principles in his painting. By releasing colours and forms from the faithful representation of reality, Economou recreated nature with equal formal and colour elements, which, blending with the light, define its content, structure and typical character.

Economou arrived at the style of this particular work after a trajectory that started with Cézanne and proceeded to van Gogh, Fauvism and Cubism. Using the solid, vivid and often unrealistic colours of the Fauves, like the Cubists he fragmented his subject, only in his case the geometrically schematised theme remains utterly recognisable. The colour surfaces become especially clear as they are contained within white outlines, which strictly organise the geometrical composition. By applying this technique, Economou succeeded in reining in his profuse emotions.

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About the artist

Lefteris Economou studied art in London, at St Martins School of Art (1949-1950), the John Cass School of Art (1950-1954) and Goldsmiths College of the University of London (1954-1955). In 1955 he was appointed as an art teacher in the high schools of Cyprus, a post he maintained until his retirement.   Economou first appeared on the art scene in 1952 when he took part in a group exhibition in London, and he remained consistently active in the art world thereafter. He was interested in all subjects, including landscape, portraiture, genre painting and still-life compositions, and his work reveals the strong influence of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. In some of his most important pieces, he synthesized free-form and precise shapes in a distinctive manner, fusing different styles of drawing. He wrote and illustrated books, which he published himself; he favoured large surfaces in his printmaking and also painted many large murals. His engravings are notable for their sharply drawn features and overall high quality.

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