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Without a Home



Costas Averkiou (1917-1981)
Without a Home
woodcut
AGLC 456 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

'Without a Home', a woodcut in the A. G. Leventis Gallery Collection, is considered one of Costas Averkiou’s most emblematic works. It was based on a drawing, which was donated to the A. G. Leventis Gallery by Antonis and Lena Theophanides. This monumental woodcut, the largest in size and featuring the greatest number of figures that the artist ever composed, was created one year after the Turkish invasion of the island and depicts the members of one of many families forced to leave their villages and homes, which were taken over by the invaders, wandering around withdesperation and hopelessness reflected on their faces.

The elderly grandfather is sitting despondently, cradling his head in one hand, while the grandmother busies herself with one of their young grandchildren. Next to her, the young mother leans on her shoulder and, behind them, two more children stand, looking saddened and frightened by what they have lived through and the uncertainty ahead. It is an elegiac scene, with freely rendered elements from Byzantine iconography. This multi-character woodcut showcases Averkiou’s skills in drawing, here marked by precision and lucidity, and in composition, which follows a classical structure, using to advantage all available space through the balanced arrangement of the individual subjects. The artist was interested in the descriptive details and the monumental rendering of the human form. The work evolves through the harmonious collaboration of empty and full areas, and white and black, which create artful contrasts between light and shadow. At the bottom right part of the print, the artist has carved a circular-shaped self-portrait, thus declaring the identity of the creator of the work, as well as his personal presence and participation in the event depicted.

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About the artist

A self-taught artist, he worked as a sign maker and a designer of advertising posters. He was influenced by the art of A. Diamantis and T. Kanthos, who also taught him the technique of woodcut. His work was of a realistic manner and his themes included landscapes, scenes from daily life and portraits. He focused on the technique of woodcut.  After 1974 he created a series of pieces that were inspired by the tragedy that the Cypriot people experienced. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he experimented with a more abstract style of art; he painted only a few pieces in this style, all of which are characterized by a poetic atmosphere. 

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