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Triptych of ’74, The Flight ΙΙ, 1988-1989



Telemachos Kanthos (1910-1993)
Triptych of ’74, The Flight ΙΙ, 1988-1989
oil on canvas
AGLC 486 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Following the heavy blow of the Turkish invasion and its impact on the island, Telemachos Kanthos could not go on painting as before. He thus turned to engraving and created a series of woodcuts under the telling title Hard Times. In 1976 he turned to his brushes once again and began, tentatively, to paint, producing up until 1989 a few significant oil paintings which drew their themes from the tragedy suffered in his homeland.

Triptych of ’74, The Flight ΙΙ is the last of these works and was painted in 1988-1989. It depicts the hurried flight of people from their villages and homes, under the threat of the Turkish troops. People – women, children and the elderly – piled into whatever means of transportation were available, even into trucks, tractors and other farm machinery, trying to get away from the areas being occupied by the invader. The composition evolves in three parts, from the centre to the right and left, in an abstract, elliptical artistic vocabulary. The long convoy of vehicles is conveyed in a semi-circular arrangement. At the centre of the canvas, the subject matter is presented up close and begins to move away to the right and the left. The viewer’s gaze is guided from the central part of the triptych to the background of the painting, where the theme of the hurried flight using all possible motorised means is clearly illustrated.

Kanthos used a limited colour palette, creating a contrast between cool and warm colours. Through the cool blues he expressed people’s negative feelings, their uncertainty, fear and anxiety. Through the warm earthy tones he conveyed the scorching summer plain of Mesaoria, the setting in which he developed his theme. The complete absence of a horizon heightens the tragedy of the historic moment. In terms of both subject matter and style, Kanthos created an epic and monumental work on the topic of being uprooted and becoming a refugee. It is indicative that in none of these paintings in which he related the passions of his homeland did Kanthos present the victimizer; by contrast, he always presents the victim, his compositions thus taking on universal dimensions.

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About the artist

Telemachos Kanthos was  born in 1910 . He studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts from 1929 to 1932 and from 1934 to 1938. His work is completely inspired by the landscape and people of Cyprus.  As a starting point for his artistic pursuits he studied 19th century landscape art.  He continued to study the Impressionists and the Post-Impressionists, focusing particularly on Cézanne.  He was especially interested in landscape painting and studied Cyprus’ light, colours and volumes in great depth. When painting scenes from everyday life, he focused on the ‘essential’; his compositions are characterized by simplification, schematized forms and a removal of excessive and descriptive allusions.

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