CULTURE

Interviews where colors replace words: Savvas Georgiadis’s portraits

Savvas Georgiadis was born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1975. Asked whether he is an artist, he says he «just paints.» Georgiadis was one of six School of Fine Arts students who won awards last year in a group show at the Athens Arts Center on «Vyzantios and the Young.» His most recent work is currently on display at the same gallery in a show titled «Memory of Faces.» Georgiadis seems a bit young to be grappling with memory and nostalgia. «I remember that I began drawing portraits of my grandfather. He used to sit at the window of his house in Cyprus and read. I liked sitting next to him, watching, and trying to get his expression on paper. This was a daily ritual that went on for many years. My parents still have those sketches,» he explains. He did not begin painting in earnest until a few years later. «One of the things that made me concentrate on painting was that I lost my best friend, who lived in the same neighborhood as me, when I was young,» Georgiadis relates. «We were the same age and spent every day together. I tried to get over his loss by drawing. I withdrew into myself and that was my medicine.» Painting also helped him overcome other difficult periods in his life. «When I was doing my military service in Limassol, I carved a nude with my bayonet on the wall of the guard post. It was a nude by Degas. As soon as my sergeant saw it, he ordered me to repaint the guard post. I did, but left the design untouched.» Georgiadis is working in challenging times, when using traditional methods can even be considered an act of bravery. «I think that it does take a bit of courage,» agrees Georgiadis. «Maybe it is also perfectly natural, considering the history of art in the 20th century. I often get myself into a panic with questions like, ‘Am I painting just for myself,’ or ‘Should I be painting at all?’ You really have to love art if you want to make it your profession. The world of the color palette attracts me and reminds me of the days I spent painting in my bedroom.» Georgiadis’s portraits reveal an astute, perceptive mind at work. «I am fascinated by faces,» he says. «I have often stopped people on the street and asked them if they wanted to pose for me. Some have accepted. Others ask me if I can paint their portrait, and I say, ‘Will you let me enter your world and borrow a piece of your soul?’ What interests me most is to be able to mirror their mood.» Georgiadis’s Athens show includes a wide range of portraits. «Every face has something to say if you observe it carefully enough,» says Georgiadis. «When someone draws my attention, I want to give their form permanency. I want to preserve them. It’s like an interview that uses colors rather than words.»