“The recycling of magic”

The preoccupation of the XLVII Venice Biennale revolves around contemporary art’s relationship with the “Future-Present-Past”. By first regarding contemporary artistic production as unified in space and time (a time consecutively characterised by continuity and discontinuity) it attempts to search through the plurality of output for “the constant” in the dynamic coexistence of past and present which together sustain the future. The handmade artworks of Savvas Christodoulides conform to the concerns of the international exhibition while remaining consistent with his personal artistic endeavour.
The building blocks of his previous artistic language were synthetic rag remnants, varicoloured oil-clothes, plastic cups, slippers, childhood undershirts, ribbons, old worn photographic portraits… in short, paraphernalia of a base and humble familiarity from which there nevertheless surfaced the tender melancholy of the outdated.
Initially he takes advantage of the used material’s ability to remodel itself into an object of aesthetic value. Through uncomplicated execution, he transmutes its “demerits” (the worthlessness of the practical, pleasant and expendable use it once yielded) so that it can subsist in the future as a new space and entity. Its fresh scope contains and witnesses; the memory of the past condition’s loss, the intellectual effort of the manual investigation, the natural sensation which accompanies the twofold optical impact of an arrival (the past to the present) paralleled by a waiting period (the pending future).
The artist’s persistence on simple manipulation of soft textured “sculpture” is maintained in his recent constructions, as are the discreet traces of his materials’ previous uses. Their impact as fractional form is reduced however, as is the charm like scale of his previous works. Now his art creates the impression of total form on a life-sized scale.
Along the length of the cardboard packaging1 of refrigerators he carves out the minimally rendered shape of a human or a tree2. The section projects itself perpendicularly to the area of the dark gap it created. The immaterial void asserts its need to exist as a compositional component through the material presence of the cardboard piece which was extracted from it. The same suggestive assertion of absence through presence is established by the two-dimensional human shadow which gazes – through leaf-shaped perforations on the sides of the three dimensional container – at the absence of a garden in the emptiness of the box.
The artworks of Christodoulides occupy space while possessing no volume. They extend into three-dimensionality with a surface which seems expansive in relation to their slight weight. Like an “engineer of the void” he subtracts weight without relinquishing the structural validity of the artwork. He experiments with the aesthetic outcome of a compact nexus which has a large plane but a meager mass.
His works as a whole are characterised by a “constant” which allows for a recognition of homogeneity despite a diversity in scale. The art he fulfils has no scale since it embodies meaningful components in any size.
Beyond the manifest retinal stimulation it provides, the “illuminated shade” of magic which showers his artwork allows for deeper meanings to impress themselves on the viewer, the sensational experience of love, the nostalgia for childhood, the games of a private vital time, and the attraction to a natural world whose lucid gaze can only bring us in contact with the unsettling presence of a mystery.


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