TELEMACHOS KANTHOS 1910-1993
Born on a 24 February, 1910 Telemachos Kanthos, Greek Cypriot post-impressionist painter, engraver, teacher, and stage designer, who died on 18 November 1993. From 1930 he studied at the Department of Fine Arts of the Athens Polytechnic, where Spyros Vikatos, Umberto Argyros, Dimitrios Biskinis, and Yiannis Kefallinos were his teachers. His fellow students included Yiannis Tsarouchis, Yiannis Moralis and Nikos Engonopoulos. Kanthos showed independence from his teachers by studying the works of Cézanne [19 Jan 1839 – 22 Oct 1906] and being influenced by them. After completing his studies in 1938 he worked in Athens and Corfu, but with the onset of World War II in 1939 he returned to his native village Alona in Cyprus. In the following years he devoted much time for the newly established theatrical company of Cyprus as a stage and costume designer. In 1949 Kanthos spent five Months in Europe, mainly in London and Paris visiting museums and galleries. On this journey he spent some time drawing at Heatherley’s School of Art in London. He visited Italy on his way back to Cyprus, where he had been appointed to teach art at the Pancyprian Gymnasium,. Kanthos revisited European centres of art often later in his life and between 1981 and 1993 he spent some time painting and drawing in Vienna, where his daughters lived.
From early on Kanthos’ main interest lay in the people and the landscapes of Cyprus. As well as painting pure landscapes, many of his subjects are taken from rural and village life, although harmonization of surfaces and colours and the schematization of forms and backgrounds always went beyond exterior detail to provide a sense of place and inner meaning. His recurring hallmark is a vibrancy and purity of colour. After 1960 Kanthos’ work acquired a new immediacy and expressive power. Schematized forms and broad surfaces are characteristic of his understanding of local atmosphere and his ability to express the feeling that underlies external appearance.
His engravings provide a marked contrast to his paintings. Vigorous and dramatic, and often with considerable expressive force, they tend to be frugally composed and contain powerful symbolic content. Kanthos’ later engravings are particularly striking for their expression of intensities of inner mood and emotion and were awarded a prize at the XV biennale of Alexandria in 1984. The Academy of Athens honoured Kanthos in 1979.
The painters Rallis Georghakis [06 Mar 1933~] and Kyriakos Lyras, and the sculptor Fylaktis Ieridis were among the students of Kanthos.
Kanthos was a pioneer in the full sense of the word as teacher, painter, engraver and stage designer. He served in all these fields with gravity, modesty and sincerity. It is for this that the State honours him, presenting examples of his ability and character. I am sure that through the examples of his work in this publication, the reader and viewer will perceive the genuineness of the artist and the excellent quality of his work. Musical, chromatic harmony, as well as simplicity and nobleness are evident in every case. There is nothing loud, excessive or unnecessary. The artist truly loves his country and he depicts it truly with inspiration and lyricism. An unrivalled master of drawing, composition and combination of colours, he does not seek to impress with his technique but rather makes it servant of his personal vision, so that he succeeds in moving specialists and non-specialists alike. (From the Address by the Director of the Cultural Services)
A Film about Mr. Kanthos
"Telemachos Kanthos", direction & srcipt writimg Paschalis Papapetrou, cinematography Nikos Avraaamides, music Ayis Ioannides, Tetrakis Films Ltd, Nicosia, CYCY£12
"I live and create in the place I exist. In that way, painting is part of my life." These are some of the words of the Cypriot painter, Telemachos Kanthos, the father of painting and engraving in Cyprus in the 20th century. This is his confession in the documentary with the same title.
The rare film clips of the artist, who passed away in 1993, the narration by his family members, his friends and the people who experienced him in different times of his life, the presentation of his best work from the time he was five (5) up to the time of the last unsigned painting before his death, as well as the reconstruction of some scenes by the director Paschalis Papapetrou beautifully create the portrait of Telemachos Kanthos on the film canvas.