This was the first major UK exhibition of work by Christodoulos Panayiotou (b. 1978, Limassol, Cyprus). It brought together works from the last 10 years, many of which had not been shown in the UK before, and new commissions – activating Camden Arts Centre with a series of poetic interventions.
Informed by his interest in archaeology, anthropology and his background in dance and theatre – Panayiotou uncovers obscured and forgotten stories, transforming the world into a theatre where myths are acted out. Natural stone mosaics, gilded icons, mineralogical curiosities and the photographic archive of a Cypriot newspaper; all become materials and motifs for his seductive and highly charged works.
The exhibition’s title Act II: The Island is taken from one of the works in the show: a folded theatrical backdrop that depicts a tropical island – an archetypal, fantastical place that evokes associations of paradise, escape and solitude, as well as isolation and fear.
In the current political climate, it might be seen as a reference to the turbulent status of the ‘British Isles’ as we approach Brexit, with all its attendant discourses of nationalism, identity and self-determination; as well as the complex political history of Cyprus as a former British colony and a still conflicted zone, caught between the cultures and histories of so-called east and west. These concerns are also touched upon in other works, including a series of large-scale, monochrome paintings produced from thousands of demonetised, pulped, Euro banknotes.
Addressing themes of politics, nationhood, religion, imperialism and oppression, Panayiotou’s work speaks through the most personal and private of gestures and interventions, returning again and again to the lost, the overlooked, the marginalised and the neglected.
Exhibition and new commissions powered by the Onassis Foundation
Christodoulos Panayiotou (b. 1978, Limassol, Cyprus) lives and works in Paris, France and Limassol, Cyprus where he initiated and runs an exhibition space - The Island Club. In 2019 he collaborated on the conception of the Emma Kunz - Visionary Drawings exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery and in 2015 he represented Cyprus in their national Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy. Concurrent with Act II: The Island at Camden Arts Centre, Panayiotou had an exhibition at Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Selected solo exhibitions include: Casa Luis Barragan, Mexico City, Mexico, 2017; CCA Kitakyushu Gallery, Kitakyushu, Japan, 2017 & 2013; Nürnberg Kunstverein, Nuremberg, Germany, 2016; Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia, Cyprus, 2015; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, 2013; Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg, 2013; CAC Brétigny, Brétigny-sur-Orge, France, 2012; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, USA, 2012; Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig, Germany, 2011; Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland, 2010; Cubitt, London, 2010. His work has also been included in a number of group exhibitions in institutions worldwide including: Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2018; Museo de Art Contemporânea de Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brasil, 2018; 8th Melle Biennale, 2018; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2018; 14th Biennale de Lyon, Lyon, France, 2017; 13th Sharjah Biennial, 2017; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France, 2017; Museo Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico, 2017; Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2017, 2016, 2012; Firstsite, Colchester, UK, 2015; Museion, Bolzano, 2014; 8th Berlin Biennale, 2014; Artspace, Auckland, New Zealand, 2014; Migros Museum, Zürich, 2014; 7th Liverpool Biennial, 2012; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, 2012; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, 2012; Joan Miro Foundation, Barcelona, 2011; Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2011, 2010; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, 2010; Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2010; Ashkal Alwan Center for Contemporary Arts, Beirut, 2010; Artist Space, New York, 2009; MoCA Miami, 2009.