Still life: Michael Anastassiades’ meditative exhibition design for the Cyprus pavilion
From Michael Beutler’s floating boathouse to Loris Gréaud’s immersive Venetian glass installation, crossovers between the spheres of art and design are not unheard of at the Venice Biennale. Case in point: the Cyprus pavilion, which is presenting art by Polys Peslikas, in a setting devised by London-based designer Michael Anastassiades.
Curated by contemporary art critic Jan Verwoert, the exhibition takes the history of colour as the starting point, analysing Cyprus’ central role in pigment exchanges throughout Asia and the Mediterranean. Verwoert hones in on this East/West notion, an increasingly important political topic in modern times.
‘Rejecting the false securities of catastrophic thought,’ explains the curator, ‘the show pays homage to the vibrant insecurities of life and the trade of ideas, via painting and its sister arts.’
Installation view of ‘The Future of Colour’ at the Cyprus pavilion
Housed in Venice’s Associazione Culturale Spiazzi, the Pavilion features Pselikas’s paintings (alongside works by artist collective Neoterismoi Toumazou and ceramicist Valentinos Charalambous), large canvases depicting semi-abstract anthropomorphic figures in a pastel palette.
Cyprus-born Anastassiades was called in to oversee the exhibition design, as well as contribute furniture to the space. Facing a Venetian canal, the pared-back space acted as a blank canvas for the designer, who added a series of white walls to punctuate the original raw elements of the building.
‘I designed the pavilion to optimise the experience of viewing the paintings,’ says the designer. ‘In minimising the architectural noise, I wanted to provide a space to contemplate in this unique location by the canal.’
Anastassiades also designed a low-key series of stone benches, dotted around the venue. The designer notes, ‘The result is a very meditative environment reflecting the depth of the works.’