MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “Renaissance”

Life on a canvas

1- Exterior viewA city’s culture is usually illustrated in the artwork it hosts, in the respect it demonstrates towards works of art no matter how old, and in the immortality it grants to those who laboured for them. The modern, clean-cut building that dominates the central landscape of the capital of Cyprus is a solid proof of how a private collection can enrich an entire country’s cultural life.

It is not often that such a rich collection of rare works of art is displayed in a public gallery. The A.G. Leventis Gallery in Nicosia, situated at the very heart of the city, features over 800 works and objects of European 2 - Entranceart spanning over 400 years across three magnificent floors. It is in these modern facilities, which also host regular events in the specially designed rooms, that a private collection belonging to one of Cyprus’ most famous (cultural) benefactors, Anastasios G. Leventis, becomes public for Cyprus and the world to discover and admire.

The vision that would become the Gallery, as it exists today, was a seven-year project that began in 2007 and culminated in the inauguration on3 - Gallery view 1st floor 26 April 2014. Just one year after it opened its doors, the Gallery has already established itself as an important cultural centre, displaying the European cultural heritage of Cyprus.

With its three floors of Cypriot, European and Greek art, and the use of modern audiovisual technology to enrich the visiting experience, the Gallery is worthy of its counterparts in the most renowned European cities.

This essential visit begins with the Cyprus Collection found on the Ground Floor, where the first steps of modern Cypriot art are 4 - Adamantios Diamantis - The World of Cyprusportrayed. The paintings mainly illustrate narrative and figurative characters, inspired from everyday life, landscape and history of the island. Most notable is the monumental piece by Adamantios Diamantis, The World of Cyprus, a large-scale composition (1.75 x 17.5 m) based on 75 drawings depicting the people and landscapes of the island. Drawn between 1931 and 1959, it portrays the traditional world of the island and its people, a world that the painter described as ‘bearing the long heritage of Cyprus’. Along with the other works in the Collection, it captures the spirit of a past time and place, enriching our knowledge and understanding of Cyprus and the Cypriot people.5 - Boiserie

Perhaps the most impressive display of art is found on the First Floor. The Paris Collection features paintings, furniture and objects which the Leventis Foundation acquired between the 1950s and 1970s. The name of the Collection alludes to the Parisian apartment in which it was housed for well over half a century. In fact, a wood paneled-room (the boiserie) was transported from the apartment itself and re-erected inside the Gallery, offering a vivid image, as it revives the unique atmosphere of Leventis’ residence with a view over Paris with its tree-lined avenues and the Eiffel Tower. This unique ambience is also conveyed through the rich collection of furniture from the era of Louis XV and Louis XVI, as well as rare 6 - PorcelainChinese porcelain, European Meissen and Sévres porcelain, miniatures, small sculptures, and period clocks.

The Collection brings together works from a broad spectrum of the history of art and underlines the collector’s eclectic outlook through a whole range of artistic schools and styles, from the 17th to the 20th century. The Collection includes paintings by El Greco, 17th century still lifes by Dutch, French and Spanish schools, Rococo art, 18th century French landscape as drawn by Oudry, Boucher and Fragonard, Venetian view masterpieces exemplified by Canaletto and Guardi, as well as 7 - Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Comediens Italiens dans un jardinpaintings by Rubens. It also includes a peek into Impressionism to the early days of Modernism, featuring exquisite works by Boudin, Monet, Renoir, Sisley and Pissarro. Vivid canvases exemplify the turn from the Post-Impressionism to Fauvism and beyond, represented by the bold bushwork of Signac, Bonnard, Dufy, Vlaminck, Utrillo, van Dongen and Chagall.

Moving up one more floor, the Greek Collection, most of which Leventis acquired from Evangelos Averoff-Tossizza in 1973, displays oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints, from the aftermath 8 - Emilios Prosalenits - Welcoming Admiral Miaoulis in Hydraof the Greek War of Independence in 1821 to around 1970. The Collection showcases a variety of artistic movements and approaches, including exemplary paintings from artists who shaped the face of Greek art, such as Konstantinos Parthenis, Konstantinos Maleas, Spyros Papaloukas, Yiannis Tsarouchis, and Yiannis Moralis. 19th century portraitures, as illustrated by München school artists such as Nicolaos Gyzis and Nikiforos Lytras are also featured here, together with newer compositions of landscapes and seascapes by Pericles Pantazis, 9 - 20150423_134151and the Modernism depicted by Nikos Engonopoulos.

This exceptional experience can only be enhanced by a secret carefully concealed within the Gallery’s halls. The most beautiful, yet most delicate, watercolours and pencil drawings on paper are hidden. They are protected from light and constan10 - 20150423_140031t exposure by a thick casing that is only removed if you press the round button on the side of what appears to be just another shiny inner wall.

All in all, this Gallery is of the highest possibly standards in the centre of a city that still remains divided. For what it hosts among its walls is more than just a series of paintings. It is a splash of colours, of emotions, of perspectives and views, of people, animals and things, of events you’ve never seen, of places you’ve never been, of times you’ve never experienced. It is life imprinted on a canvas.

N.B. All photos are mine taken on 23 April 2015.

Sweet but not salty

DSC07900Salt is considered perhaps the most important element on earth. Among its many uses, salt is essential for seasoning and savouring. Thus, a place that produces salt would be historically important with a huge heritage to deliver.

Such a place is Salzburg. Not just because of the salt, but because it truly is a city of music and arts. With its most famous resident being the musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus MozartDSC07842, Salzburg boasts a plethora of cultural, historical and artistic monuments and many, many, many churches! Here even the cemetery is a must-see place to visit. In fact the whole of the city’s historic centre was named UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

DSC07857Salzburg, one of Austria’s most beautiful cities, developed over the period from the Middle Ages to the 19th century when it was a city-state ruled by a prince-archbishop. Its Gothic art attracted many craftsmen and artists before the city became even better known through the work of the Italian architects Vincenzo Scamozzi and Santino Solari, to whom the centre of Salzburg owes much of its Baroque appearance.

DSC07702This meeting-point of central and southern Europe features breathtaking panoramic views, with the Hohensalzburg fortress situated high on the hills, as Salzburg’s famous landmark. People from all over the world flock to the city, not only due to Mozart or the famous chocolates that bear his name, but also to see the picturesque settings that formed the background of one of the most famous musicals of all time “The Sound of Music“. There are even specific tours just for this! (Just make sure you board a relatively new bus, otherwise you’ll feel as if you’re on an old carriage off to a Renaissance market place!).

DSC07887Salzburg is a city that is just as beautiful covered in snow as it is in spring with its blooming flowers and colourful gardens. Its palaces, squares, and pedestrian alleys are a pleasure to walk through and given the warm weather, a boat ride across the Salzach is ideal!

DSC07903

And since you’re in Austria, don’t forget to visit the famous historical Sacher Hotel with its renowned torte with a bit of sahne (fresh cream) and a capuccino! It is mouth-watering and an essential part of a day at one of Europe’s most scenic and idyllic cities!

All photos are mine taken in Salzburg on 02 January 2014.

When would you like to live?

VicCouple“I don’t like living in the 21st century,” uttered Alice as she gulped down a glass of cold water. The sun was stifling that day, and burning the back of her head so much that she could even feel it turn chili pepper red.

“Why?” said Paul as he continued to stare at his tablet, concentrated on how to best guide his hero-turtle along a leafy path, knocking frogs out of its way. “This is the best century in which to live! Well, except if in the next one we have flying vehicles and spaceships that would allow us to fly to the moon and other planets whenever we want! Yeah, that would be so cool!…Gotcha!”. Paul’s eyes never left the screen. It was as if his gaze was transfixed. And every now and then he would sway in motion together with the tablet, as if he and his hero-turtle were one and the same.

“Agh”, sighed Alice. She, on the other hand, was a romantic. She didn’t jump through hoops for all this technology available at our fingertips nowadays. Sure, it facilitates life and was definitely worth it. But our lives shouldn’t simply depend on them. They are supposed to serve us and not the other way around. Alice loved to observe the world around her, and she could not possibly understand why Paul was so mesmerized by a simple gadget, when on a lovely summer day like this birds were chirping away in the trees, flowers were blooming all across the garden, and the sea was lying right there, still and peaceful waiting for a splash. How could he just ignore it all? For a screen?

“I would like to have lived in the Renaissance. With those large, elegant gowns, swirling along with my every step. Those pretty hats and lace umbrellas. And all those gentlemen, discreetly courting me.” Alice made a twirl as she dreamt of how better everything would be.

“Pfff,” snarled Paul. Still not looking away from the screen.

“What? … Rather, what about Belle Époque or the Enlightenment? Aaaaahhh”, she let out a prolonged sigh, like a small bubble letting out its air, slowly and smoothly.

“You’re a dreamer. You do live in Wonderland after all!”

“So what? At least I realize the beauty of other times. You don’t even know about them!”

“Sure I do. I know about the time of dinosaurs. Or the prehistoric men. Or the time of the Crusades.”

“Why would you want to live in a war period? We have enough of that now as it is!”

“But it’s all about the action. And feeling important!”

“See, that’s what these stupid videogames do to you. You think everything is fun and games. Even when lives are at stake! …. I’ve had enough of you. I’m going for a swim, either way you won’t even know I’m not here.” Alice threw off her beach dress and ran towards the sea. She welcomed the soothing splash into the ocean, as she shook off the sun’s burning rays from her head and back.

She was already swimming 200 meters in, when Paul, eyes fixed on the tablet, said “do what you want. We’ll always disagree on time periods. Everyone thinks another time different to their own is always better. … Are you even listening to me?”


Partly inspired by Daily Prompt: 21st Century Citizen
Do you belong in this day and age? Do you feel comfortable being a citizen of the 21st-century? If you do, explain why — and if you don’t, when in human history would you rather be?

Also part of: Daily Prompt: Fly on the Wall – If you could be a “fly on the wall” anywhere and at any time in history, where and when would you choose?

Also part of Daily Prompt: One-Way Street – Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?

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