Koula Savvidou “Time. And Time Again” at Rodeo, Piraeus

Who is Koula Savvidou?

We used to joke in the gallery: “Koula Savvidou for President!” when this name meant nothing but two words and an endless sea of enthusiastic emojis on our social media accounts.

Who is Koula Savvidou?

One day as I was sitting on the big wooden dinning-table of Apostolos Georgiou, a small object made of tin caught my attention. It was something between a classic US letterbox and the type of water taps they used back in the days to store water and wash hands and face with a small brass tap that turns and maybe lets the liquid flow.

It had four short legs that made it look like a mammal and a small bucket waiting to be filled with… with what?

As the master of that house is not of the accumulating objects type, I dared ask what is the purpose of this container and who made it?

He says Koula; Koula Savvidou.

Some sort of electricity went through me, channelled wrongly. I was left perplexed as to how this name can be connected with this essential, primal and beautiful thing.

Who is Koula Savvidou?

I said.

That was three years ago, and I made sure to get to know who she is and what she does.

When I travelled to Cyprus I was officially introduced to her via Christodoulos Panayiotou.

All women I show, are stunningly looking, and she, is also born a star.

In my first visit at her place, it was impossible not to be indiscrete.

Her apartment, located in the peculiar but extremely familiar Tower Mansions of Nicosia on Tennedou street, is a gesamtkunstwerk; and time has stopped there.

A combination of fluffy looking Artifort cotton upholstered sofas in reds, yellows and blacks, and from the not so high ceiling hang low long stringed Artemide lights in Klein blues, matching the window frames; a black lacquered piano (her pedigree is full of music and genius) floats on an off-white carpet.

All of the above, and much more, mixed with large sculptures and pencil drawings framed in thick wooden frames and wall pieces made from wire and threads and wood from different decades of her life. A huge white coral dominates the coffee table, a proof of love but also of a state in between dream and reality, life and afterlife, and sculpture. A symphony of perfectly combined material and colours, very soothing to someone growing up in the 80s in the southern part of Europe.

Her castle in isolation, is still where everything happens, in solitude and surrounded by poetry manifesting in interior arrangements. And she is the lonesome and wandering Queen, with some very special and rare visits.

It’s been a joy and an honour to enter her universe.

There is nothing more touching and serious than great artists who make space for life and are defined by it and they turn their genius into a backdrop for themselves to deal with the everyday.

Koula Savvidou is one of those extraordinary people, as most great artists, at least from this part of the world usually are; specially the women. Caring and healing have been core elements of her constitution, a true alchemist in life and work who has always combined materials for the sake of solving riddles and for the sake of balance.

The work she makes is defined by bringing together delicate elements or materials that produce epic, mythological creatures, if figuration is at stake, or the very opposite; she produces works of high sensibility from heavy, sharp and violent objects.

As she is stuck between the body of an exotic bird and a water nymph, so is her work.

And if some call it surrealistic, it would not be a mistake.

While bringing disparate and loaded elements together, she speaks of myths, ancient female stories of transformation, motherhood and childbearing but also very much about the impossibility of a society to recognise, and assigns the artist a responsible medium to catalyse the ‘sensorial frenzy’ of our times.

“In a society where no one is properly recognized by others, each one becomes unable to recognize one’s own reality.”

For her first show at Rodeo, Koula Savvidou presents a body of sculptural works from the period 1987-2021 alongside some wall pieces. A number of the works exhibited here come from “On the Solitary Crossing of Impassable Passages,” her solo exhibition that took place at Diaspro Art Centre in Nicosia in 1995.

Trained to become a painter, and practiced in a great architect’s studio in France, her language has become sculpture. She never stopped painting, though she doesn’t use canvas any more, with some exceptions.

Her sculptures are mostly always drawn with earthy tones, of the land washed by the extreme sun light, the moon and the light of the stars.

Savvidou’s metamorphosis occurs in isolation and is what gives shape to those figures, that stand and wait for a new life. Like refugees in a flight these lost souls, bodies who are changing skin, identity and finally transform.

at Rodeo Piraeus, Piraeus
until September 3, 2022

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