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Still Life with Bottles, Fruit and Paintings, c. 1958 (?)



Christoforos Savva (1924-1968)
Still Life with Bottles, Fruit and Paintings, c. 1958 (?)
oil on canvas
AGLC 545 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Christoforos Savva’s interest in still lifes began during the time he was studying in London. Visual reality had always provided a stimulus for his creativity. He painted most of his still-life paintings in Cyprus between 1955 and 1956, after studying in London and before going to Paris. These are compositions depicting everyday objects placed on the table in his room, which also served as his studio. In these joyful, harmonious compositions, which are built with lively colours and much light, familiar, insignificant objects are elevated to expressers of a hidden beauty.

The still lifes of that particular period attest to elective affinities with two artists whom Savva studied in particular: Braque and Matisse. They are characterised by a rhythmic dialogue between figurative and geometrical decorative motifs, which Savva used to organise the canvas, to enrich it aesthetically and to express his feelings freely. Colour plays the leading role, creating zones of light differing in intensity. Often, he used older works of his as part of the background, thus leading us to his earlier artistic output. Savva also painted still lifes during his training under André Lhote. It is only natural that in these works he would incorporate the Cubist teachings of his new instructor. While space and object merge, the subject is always recognisable. The difference lies in the fact that the geometricised volumes offer a completely new viewpoint of the objects.

Still Life with Bottles, Fruit and Paintings, is an enigmatic painting in more ways than one. It bears no signature or year of completion, and its style does nothing to help in dating it, since it does not safely refer to any specific artistic period of the painter. It is, we might say, an experimental, isolated endeavour. The subject matter of the work allows it to be connected to two different periods of the artist. The pattern on the plate is similar to that on plates appearing in paintings made in Cyprus between 1955 and 1956. Another feature linking it to this period is the depiction of other paintings within this particular oil, though these works are not his, as was the case in the aforementioned period; they are abstract paintings. This observation leads us to assume that it was painted probably in Paris in 1958, following Savva’s visit to the Musée d’Art Moderne to see an exhibition of American abstract art, which had provided him with much food for thought. It is to this exhibition that the artist referred in a letter to Adamantios Diamantis. Indeed, so as to better describe the style of the paintings, he sketched some of them in the letter; one can see that these sketches are in the same spirit as the paintings that make up the background of the still life in question. 

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About the artist

Christoforos Savva was born in 1924 in Marathovounos village, where he remained until 1947. He studied at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London and at Andre Lhote’s workshop in Paris.

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