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29 May - 29 May 2021

The opening of the exhibition “History has a Face” took place at the Multifunctional Coastal Park (at the big pier) in Limassol, organized by the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, and the Limassol Municipality.

 

The exhibition is held on the coastal road – from the municipal gardens to Ayia Ekaterini (Frangoklisia) and at the Multifunctional Coastal Park at the old harbour, shines light on those who fought and sacrificed themselves for freedom.

 

The official opening of the exhibition was held by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, Dr Nikos Christodoulides, who noted that “the exhibition by the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation and the Limassol Municipality, is an inspirational history lesson. It is one of those rare occasions, when history meets with us and introduces itself in the midst of our daily routines. Known and unknown figures of the Greek Revolution that were jumping out of the pages of books, come alive and escape the constructed environment we have confined them to, the classrooms, the convention halls and museums, to enter a time machine and meet us here, where life happens, in our afternoon walk to the old harbour, to walk by our side and to narrate to us, in the first person, how epic moments are made. Always supported by the image-building power of art, which, already from prehistoric times and cave drawings, has been a significant source of history and always with the amazing clarity of Benjamin Mary’s works.  Because history is not a matter of the past, faceless and distant. A nation’s history is us, its people”.

 

In his welcoming message, Limassol Mayor Mr. Nikos Nikolaides highlighted that “the collaboration in organising this exhibition is a special honour for us, because it imbued in Limassol’s most central locations, its coastal avenue and its coastal beachfront, the celebratory spirit and the anniversary rhythm  that connect us with the 200 years from 1821”.

 

In his address, the Vice-chairman of the Board of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, Dr Charis Pouangare, noted that “the ‘History has a Face’ exhibition, beyond its artistic value, imparts noble and powerful ideas. The few who dared take on a strong adversary – the Ottoman empire – to liberate their country, were not only the powerful, the famous and the educated of their time. They were also the plain, everyday people, who had courage and faith in their struggle. In both of these occasions we honour today, 1821 and the heroic sacrifice during the Fall of Constantinople, these people did not place themselves first, but their principles, their beliefs, their freedom. And they sacrificed themselves for those values. In this way, the ordinary and the famous people together, gave history a face”.

 

In her address, the Director of the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, Mrs Artemis Skoutari, said that “the exhibition is built on a unique exhibit from the Foundation’s Collection, with until-recently unknown portraits of Greeks and Cypriots who took part in the Revolution of 1821 or participated in the political or ecclesiastical life of Greece in the years that followed the ruling King of Otto”.

 

The representative for the Ambassador of Greece to Cyprus, Mr Ioannis Mallikourtis, read an address by the Ambassador of Greece, Mr Theocharis Lalakos. In his address, the Ambassador relayed a personal experience: “What overtook me when I went through the album was the difference between these portraits and those that adorned the walls of our classrooms when I was in primary school. Those portraits were obviously idealized, based on the neoclassicist current that prevailed at the time. In contrast, the 320 figures sketched from life by Mary are realistic, with a much more human dimension. One cannot help but wonder, in the absence of photographs, could there be more faithful depictions of the heroes than Mary’s portraits? And this makes them more emotionally moving, because in the heroes’ faces – late in their lives –all the harshness and suffering they went through are clearly discernible”.

 

His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol expressed immense pleasure for the organization of this impressive exhibition, which highlights in a unique way both the grandeur of the fight for national liberation, and the faith to Jesus for his success.

 

For the duration of the exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity to see drawings, created naturally, mainly in Athens between 1839 and 1844, which are displayed for the first time and acquaint the viewer with known and unknown personalities of the Greek Revolution and Greece under King Otto, through the sensitive, penetrating gaze of a European artist.

 

Fighters, politicians, clergymen, intellectuals, philhellenes and ordinary people pose patiently for Benjamin Mary, who succeeds in capturing their expression at a unique moment in History.

 

Among those shown in the portraits are: Th. Kolokotronis, L. Koundouriotis, I. Makriyiannis, Ch. Chatzipetrou, British philhellene G. Finlay, P. Notaras, Th. Farmakides, the Cypriot N. Theseus, B. Petimezas, A. Mavromichalis, E. Salafatinos, I. Kolettis, I. Karatzas, D.N. and K. Botsaris and others.

 

More historical elements and information about the figures on display can be found in the co-publication by the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation and the Historical and Ethnological Company of Greece-National History Museum: History has a face – Figures of 1821 in the Greece of King Otto portrayed by the Belgian diplomat Benjamin Mary (Athens, 2020).

 

The outdoor exhibition “History has a face” in Limassol will last until 31 July 2021.