Christoforos Savva (1924 - 1968)
“Savva enters into the most progressive movements, then he transcends them, and he creates himself. What he makes, are very personal things” Adamantios Diamantis – from an interview to Demos Protopapas, Apophasis documentary (in Greek) (Iridanos, 1988).
Christoforos Savva is a unique case in recent Cypriot culture. Many factors contribute to pronouncing him the most important creator in modern Cypriot art. It was he who introduced contemporary artistic trends, which he brought into a creative dialogue with local traditions; thus becoming the link between the first two generations of artists, whilst also functioning as a reference point for the younger ones. Moreover, he was among the pioneers of the modernisation of the local cultural scene, by rallying together creators from various fields into associations, and by establishing spaces most important of which, Apophasis Gallery that hosted important often progressive activities.
Savva was born in 1924, in Marathovounos village of the Mesaoria plain – the second among six children of a peasant family. The fact that a mere village child who grew up in a colony, ended up becoming a great modern artist – the most important in the soon-to-be independent republic – constitutes one of the fascinating “enigmas” of his myth. Most probably, however, his “flight” to England in 1947, had more to do with a desire to escape the suffocating small Cypriot environment, rather than any passion for art. Initially, Savva took classes at St. Martin’s School of Art and at Central School of Art, in London. His more regular studies began in 1948, after enrolling in Heatherley’s School of Fine Art, which he attended until 1953 or 1954. His (unfortunately, too few) surviving early works indicate a range of influences, derived from French modernism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – mostly from Paul Cézanne and from the Fauves, especially, Henri Matisse.
Dr Antonis Danos is a Lecturer of Art History and Theory at the Cyprus University of Technology.