By Alix Norman
All the paintings speak to me, but it’s the ghostly, ephemeral child on a background of deepest blue that really captures the attention. It’s a canvas one drinks with the eyes, losing oneself in the cobalts and sapphires, ceruleans and indigos, moved by the strength of emotion the work engenders. Like all the other pieces in the exhibition Love, Light, Colour, the work remains unnamed. And there’s a reason for this, explains the artist, Maria Socratous…
“Art should be accessible to everyone,” she says, “regardless of their perceptions or background. There are no titles on the paintings because I don’t want to confer to the viewer that this is what it is; I’d like the observer to create their own story, without being incarcerated by the title. It should be about how the work itself makes you feel.”
It’s a thoughtful concept, and one which is typical of Maria herself: not merely as an artist, but also as a woman who very much enjoys inspiring and sharing inspiration with others. As a journalist, author of several renowned cookbooks, exemplary chef, trained nursery teacher and truly compassionate person, Maria has – throughout her life – used her gifts to help others in a quietly humble manner. It’s impossible not to feel drawn to her warmth, and her art – one feels – is an extension of this magnetic, empathic character.
“I’ve always wanted to be an artist, ever since I was a child,” she says with a shy smile. “I remember my first trip to England, when I was nine, feeling the need to draw everything I saw… the fields, the greenery, the architecture; I needed to get it all down on paper, the impressions were so striking. I knew I wanted to be a painter. But I never got around to it until now.”
Co-opted into the family baking business – which, nevertheless, she enjoyed immensely for the creativity and artistic flair it allowed– Maria’s life has mostly revolved around her work with cookery, for which she is well-known in both Cyprus and abroad. But “art was always part of me: I love visiting exhibitions, galleries and museums, reading about artists, immersing myself in the colours and techniques,” she adds. “I just never had the time to dedicate myself to it until now.”
With Love, Light, Colour Maria has taken a year out to return to her roots. And it’s been an exhilarating process, she says. “It takes a lot of courage now, at this time of life, to do something like this. But I’m just happy that I’m doing it and loving it.”
Putting together the exhibition certainly has been a journey, she suggests, though a highly enjoyable one: “The best thing for me is the whole process of creating these artworks; it’s been an amazing and fulfilling journey,” she says with a huge beam. “And I really hope that enjoyment comes across in the work…”
With about 80 artworks in total – some dating back to 2013, most from the last six months or so – the exhibition promises to be a celebration of colour in mixed media. “I’ve only use the three primary colours in creating the pieces,” Maria explains – the secondary colours being a result of the mixing and blending of the acrylics, watercolours, crayons and fabrics with which she works.
“The feedback so far has been quite encouraging,” she adds, modestly, as we flip through a number of her beautiful canvasses, admiring a themed series of multi-hued works depicting a woman seated, in turn, on a background of brightest yellow, deepest green, vibrant red and breath-taking blue. “I think it’s the love for what I’m doing that’s poured into the paintings, and at the same time, wanting to share that love. And it’s about the light, and the colour too, because all three elements are – for me – intertwined.”
Hence, of course, the name of the exhibition. “You can’t have love if there isn’t light in your soul, and colour,” Maria muses; “without love, everything is black. That’s why love comes first.” This, then, is an exhibition that will appeal to all: named for love, created with love and inspiring love in others; less a labour of love, in fact, than a pure celebration of that most profound of human emotions.
Love, Light, Colour
By Maria Socratous. Opens with a reception at 8.30pm on November 21 at The Mills, Kaimakli Cultural Centre. The exhibition runs until November 25, and is open between 10am and 1pm, 4pm and 7pm on weekdays, and 10am and noon on Saturdays. The net proceeds from the sale of the artworks will go to the charity Alkionides UK