Visual Artist

Maria Papacharalambous


In 2001 a solo exhibition entitled “Horizons: vertically” at Diatopos Art Centre and in 2002 at Morfi Gallery Limassol. 
An attempt to organise chaos through the alternative logic of inner vision inventing personal myths,  structuring thought, exorcising negative elements offering up a world in which narrative pictures exist in another dimention in time. 

In addition an interactive  game with magnets  causes the viewer to amend the narrative part of the work through suggested choices...


A personal catalogue was published by "En Tipis publications [ISBN: 9963 - 584 - 56 - X]. Texts by art historians Giuliani Serafini and Daphne Nilita. See below the texts.



    Mixed Media
    130 X 70 cm triptych
    180 X 100 cm
    130 X 70 cm
    50 X 50 cm
    50 X 35 cm

    Work from this series can be found at

    • Cyprus National State Gallery
    • Central Bank Of Cyprus
    • Bank of Cyprus
    • Alfa Bank collection
    • Larnaca Municipal collection
    • ARTos Foundation
    • Medical centres
    • Private collections in Cyprus and abroad



    "Horizons: Verically" by Daphne Nikita

    Horizons: Vertically


    The word ‘horizon’, strictly interpreted, means the curving line where the sky appears to touch the earth. How-ever, it has another, symbolic interpretation, which marks out the spiritual boundary to which anyone may attain. Man, with his indisputable gift of creativity, has the ability to conquer the horizons of knowledge and thought, endowing them with new dimensions. On contemplating the history of creative endeavour- the history of art from its inception- we may observe that the fundamental concern of artist of every period has been their inner need to broaden and investigate their epistemological and spiritual horizons, having visual creation as their tool and their weapon. The important achievements of art, that influence all spheres of life, take their inspiration from the conscious struggle of man to discover secret paths in his existence and to interpret the mysteries of the cosmos. Through personal envisagement and through the artist’s quest, the intelligible horizons of the intellect and the soul express themselves and are positioned within the canvas, as being “the beautiful” as something which will lead to new experiences  and achievements.


    It is to the search of this limits – starting with the one of her own limits – which the new work of Maria Papacharalambous leads, with a symbolic title “horizons: vertically”. The symbolic parameter of the title is for her a challenge and an intellectual and artistically plastic exercise, because, although developed unconsciously, it has led her in the course of its development to a conscious operation, that on the material solution of the problem of the vertical horizon, which leads her to investigate the inexhaustible possibilities of painting, in an attempt to suggest the maximum number of possible solutions.


    Her painting – the result of a personal philosophy and vision on which the artist confers visual dimensions through the dialogue between form and colour, that between geometry and freedom of form (which all go to built the “hidden structure” of the world) and the expressive textures of the materials that she creates – is now called onto resolve a new challenge. The visual problem is a specific one, and for that reason the artist does not chafe her energy on superfluous compositions of themes, but concentrates instead on material solutions. A need to give new suggestions of synthetic structure in the painting of surfaces, a need to structure thought itself. The “Vertical: Horizons” gives to the work a new dynamic. Each canvas in the triptych  has its own horizon, the horizontal line, which gives the composition order, balance, harmony and serenity.  In contrast, the vertical outlines of the painting, as well as the vertical arrangement of the elongated canvas of each figurative trilogy, create other vertical horizons, which emanate serenity. Thus, each work releases its very own energy, always positive, which encloses the spectrum’s range from serenity to tension and vice versa. The proportions and relations of the two are always differentiated; with the result that the artistic space always vibrates with life and presents. This new work of Maria Papacharalambous is characterised by more abstraction of form and by restraint  in her chromatic range. The archetypal, allusive shapes that emerge from the depth of her subconscious – memories, existences, representations – and that in print themselves on the artistic surfaces provoking the most profound emotional and intellectual response on the part of the viewer, are now less sensible. With her monochrome surfaces the artist wishes to make the colour itself bear the burden – as an important visual value and as a carrier of spiritual values. The work does not lose in pictorial power; on the contrary the painter manages to work with the restricted colour range that she has chosen in such a way as to achieve the maximum visual effect. In the realization of her objectives, an important element is the interpolation of white surfaces and isolated, spotted bursts/intensities of bright colours. Her canvases become more spiritual without losing any of there sensual content.


    The place of the allusive, archetypal outlines / shapes that are stimulated by the region of the unconscious is now taken by some other indeterminate symbols / forms. The vision and the space of pre-conscious play now a greater role. This selective and restricted use of pictorial representation acts as stimulus in self-discovery within the sphere of her art, but also clearly prompts the viewer to participate in a visual adventure. Each of the specific narrative allusions – ostrich, fish, butterfly, ladder etc – opens up its own myth.


    The use and elaboration of materials plays an important part – as always – in the realisation of her aims. Other inexpensive and unimportant once enrich her colorific materials, in order to create those qualities, textures and nuances that will transform the material into poetry and give depth and magic to her art. An art that contains within it the element of alchemy, which manages to activate the innate relationship of man with the material, with forms and colours and to stimulate his tendency to search for their hidden meanings.


    Today a painter’s work is  especially difficult. Painting is a very ancient art and a very great deal  has been said about it. For this reason we often come across repetitions, common places and empty gestures. Further more, technology allows for unlimited possibilities in visual expressions, and like a contemporary Circle, bewitches young artists, who, lured by the possibilities of the new, original solutions that it offers, become its fanatical supporters. In contrast, the new, the original and the inspired in painting are achieved with great difficulty by very few and special people. Great strength, ability and inspiration are therefore required by however wishes to truly and sincerely serve his or  her art. For this reason many has spoken hastily about the death of painting. However they have been quickly contradicted, since painting knows no limits. Its intellectual horizons continually shift in an ongoing challenge to creation. Maria Papacharalambous gambled and won that great gamble, the gamble of painting, which does not degenerate into empty gestures.



     "The syndrom of the opposites" by Giuliano Serafini

    The Syndrom of Opposites


    What immediately struck me about the previous work of Maria Papacharalambous, was the rare inventive quality of her artistic expression. Her inexhaustible desire for self-renewal despite her use of a “low”, always similar, range of colour – grey, ochre, sienna, brown. Earth colours – in an extraordinarily simple iconographic setting.

    I like to think that over and above the unquestionable and natural talent of this young artist, her challenge, perhaps unconscious, seems to be aimed at her own abilities. Almost as if to prove that a painter, if that is what a real painter is, is able to reach the highest levels of expression with the minimum of means. “Less is more”, as Mies van der Rohe declared in this context.

    I must say that I also admire the asceticism that this conviction can bring, this severity with one’s own self, the assumption of creative expression above all in its ethical dimention, as a choice related, over and above art, to conscience, in effect, to life itself.

    To remain on the subject of Papacharalambou’s earlier work, another challenge may  lie in the oscillation between figurative and abstract art, between description and suggestion, between the real and the imaginary. Until she eventually leads us into a no man’s land of  vision that certainly fascinates but also knows how to give rise to reflection.

    It would for example be very limiting to assess those pieces within the cultural and ideological context of historical informel: the artist has made different aesthetic choices, she has different reasons in her quest.

    In analyzing these pieces structurally, we observe irregular patches of colour that appear to be fragments of an original form that can be recognized and identified from its various pieces and to which the fragments wish to return all together in order to refashion it in its integrity. Within this kind of Big Bang, float spots and shapes that have been etched with the force of powerful gesture. These follow an apparently arbitrary orbit, but in fact they always keep under control the entire system of composition, guaranteeing order and inner balance, closing it away in a virtual “cage”, which despite its existence, holds the piece together.

    All this is expressed before our eyes not as abstract artistic conviction, nor as a psychic impulse motivated by emotion stemming from an urge that equates the work of creation and action with being, as it was for Wols, Souares, Hartung, Mathieu, Pollock or de Kooning. That which we see moves above all, to quote Cezanme, “in parallel with nature”, it follows the machinery of a creation on the basis of an analogous and not imitative process, which resembles a physical phenomenon in action or the spontaneous birth of a biomorphic entity. It is, in a way, the creation of “another” universe, no less vital and complex than the natural one, but one that belongs solely to the artist’s imagination, which in its turn imprints it on our consciousness and senses.

    The ambiguity that stems from this from this vision is that is essentially based on the “unmasking” of the invisible, which is finally conveyed to a  level of visual perception and becomes the main focus of the work of Papacharalambous during this period. But that is not enough. With challenge after monumental magnitude, that consists of many separate parts often interconnected, which we admire once again for their composition and masterly sense of space, even when executed with a use of humble materials. The works consist always of a broad chromatic synthesis elaborated on a range of similar tones juxtaposed with a system of rapid strokes and splashes of more intense and “musically harmonious” colour that establish a tension, almost a dissonance, on the interior of the artistic arrangement. To continue with the musical metaphor, it is in this kind of counterpoint that the composition finds its own axis once again, its own scale, the order which only the artist is in a position to define and render intelligible to our eyes.


    I mentioned earlier how impossible it is to compare this work by Papacharalambous with the historical trend that was led by Michel Tapie in the 1950s, in which the ideological and philosophical motivations of the Parisian group had certainly been influenced by the thinking of Heidegger and Husserl.


    A child of her own times – and I see no reason for it to be otherwise – Papacharalambous has certainly gone beyond the “romantic” face of the existential revolution as she also learned to question and doctrines of the phenomenological school. The historical informel claimed that in order to create a new aesthetic order, you must first destroy the mechanomorphic universe, which more or less brought about the progress and modernity that was invented by cubism / futurism, by constructivism and generally by all the movements   that had a geometric – abstract imprint. But in the same way that those Avant Garde movements failed in their attempt to propose an absolute model of historical reference for mankind, so too informel would have to reckon with history and to waive and aspirations for championship.  Papacharalambous knows this. She also knows that our age is not an age of prophecies and crusades. In the midst of the crises, ideological conflict of all kinds and inflections stemming from the economic interests of the market place, art is still searching for its archetypal purity, a new beginning. “ All that I love is always found in its beginning” , wrote Odysseas Elytis. It seems to me that it is this, in the past as well as in the present,  that is at the peak of the quest and the expectations of Papacharalambous.


    In her most resent work, the constant of an archetypal dualism (material – colour, surface – mark, pause – rhythm) that was characteristic of the art of an era, has been transformed into an even more radical and audacious antagonism. One could almost describe it as a new ordeal to be faced (although never to be overcome, for art, as is well known, remains always a movable and unreachable target). In this pieces that are becoming even larger and more in a vertical direction, like pennants, the painted elements consists of quick, broad energetic stokes – perhaps with self-reference in memory of earlier work, in which she believed strongly and therefore used as a background, like a bare cloth. In fact Papacharalambous never announces anything new without paying her respects to her earlier work, which she “honours”.  She seems to be telling us that change must come with continuation. To change does not mean to close, to leave behind the starting point, the history that we carry with us.


    I was saying then, that painting is always present albeit with a symbolic charity, which is now proposed as a kind of background, like a precedent recalled in order to give meaning to a new discussion. This discussion is based, needless to say, on another antagonism, another dichotomy. Opposites, continues to influence Papacharalambous quest and to show her the way she should follow.  The unity of her artistic vision grows more and more into the schema of Heraclitus regarding the re-composition of opposites.


    This time is the informal factor of the eternal, which at times resembles the sky or an atmospheric element, the artist approaches something strange, misleading, something very close to the unpredictable. On a painted background, reminiscent only of her only artistic rationale, she “grafts” a narrative, anecdotal, apparently ironical, repertoire certainly extrapolated from the representational code, but certainly recognizable from it own identity. With a view to underlining this absolute turn towards a possible visual universe, she gives value and volume to the catalogue of images by cutting shapes out of pieces of cardboard or wood, or adding scraps of fabric that protrude from the perimeter of the canvas and “invade” the viewer’s real space.


    Without a doubt this is a new point of departure for the artist. And as such – and it seems to me that this is the significance of her current creative proposal – she must manifest on the physical and tangible levels also the characteristics of a “principle”, which is both that of the image and the gaze, but also of life itself. Consequently, in accordance with a mysterious logic of every creative process, her vision must go back as far as the iconosphere of her childhood, the time of dreams and games. It is for this reason that the objects that Papacharlamabous introduces into the painting are small elephants, butterflies and insects and flowers. These objects took us if they were painted by the hand of a small child even though their worn and impoverished look makes them resemble the anxious remnants of a lost age, as if seen through a posthumous vision.


    In this continues contradiction, paradoxically we find once again all the inner coherence of the work of Papacharalambous, the nature of her living body in perpetual evolution, an organism moving forward, perhaps against the artists wishes, according to her own irrevocable laws of evolution.