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Artist Stass Paraskos to be honoured at Leeds light show

Lovers and Romances by Stass Paraskos. Stass Paraskos was prosecuted for obscenity by the British police in Leeds in 1966 for exhibiting this painting of a male nude.

THE late Stass Paraskos is to be honoured in the UK next month along with artists Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth as part of the annual Light Night Arts Festival in Leeds.

Leeds College of Art and Design has commissioned a music and light show from the avant-garde arts group The Amorphous Orchestra. The performance will take place on October 3.

The “son et lumière” show will see a montage of images of great artists associated with Leeds, including the renowned Cypriot artist who died in March this year, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, projected 10 metres high onto the side of the historic Vernon Street Building of Leeds College of Art, along with examples of their works of art.

The giant images will be synchronised with music in a festival project designed to reveal the hidden histories of the historic buildings of Leeds.

Paraskos was born in Anaphotia near Larnaca, in 1933, the son of poor peasant farmers. Travelling to England in 1953 to work as a waiter in Leeds, a group of local art students encouraged him to take art lessons at Leeds College of Art. There he became friends with some of the most significant artists of the time, including Terry Frost, Alan Davie, Tom Hudson and Harry Thubron.

In 1966, ‘Stass’ was arrested following an exhibition of his paintings in Leeds. The paintings included images of a nude man which the police decided was obscene. In a famous court case, Paraskos became the last artist in Britain to be prosecuted for obscenity under the same law that had been used against the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, DH Lawrence. Two of the offending paintings are now in London’s Tate Gallery, the only Cypriot artist to have work displayed there.

As a result of the court case, Paraskos became friends with major art world figures, including Norbert Lynton and Herbert Read, and was invited to exhibit at the prestigious Institute for Contemporary Arts in London. He also began teaching at Leeds College of Art and the University of Leeds.

Returning home in 1969, Paraskos founded the Cyprus College of Art in Famagusta, the first art school in Cyprus, with help from Leeds College of Art and Archbishop Makarios. The College is now located in Lemba near Paphos.

Paraskos died in March from septicemia following an operation on his leg.

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