By Alix Norman
This could be London. Or Paris. Beyond the wall of windows, traffic rushes through the night, but inside all is still, tranquil, warm. There’s a welcoming hush here, an atmosphere of culture and refinement suggested in the minimalist décor and subtle lighting. It’s nothing so crude as a building or a room, or even a business – this is every inch a ‘space’, sparkling white with high ceilings and clean lines. Which allows anyone entering to concentrate on the real focus of this gallery: the glorious, sensuous art.
Known as The Collection Gallery, currently, it’s home to the exhibition Embody, a collection of almost 50 works by nine talented artists on a theme of “bodies, faces, and the story of humans. It’s the third show we’ve had here,” says owner Rebecca Tornaritis, “despite the fact we only opened in June.”
It’s certainly been a busy few months for the gallery, and for its owner. But Rebecca’s hard work and expertise is paying off: not only is she attracting top local artists, but also well-known names from abroad. But its par for the course for this well-travelled, highly cultured and educated woman, who’s long had a love of great art.
Born in Romania, Rebecca has always been interested in the world of art and artists, naming contemporary artist and fellow countryman Adrian Ghinea as one of her personal favourites. “His technique of using the pallet knife creates so much emotion, and I find his work timeless; every time you see it, it transmits something new; his art makes you think, and stays in the mind.”
Growing up amidst “friends who were the children of a number of preeminent contemporary artists”, Rebecca was introduced to art, museums and galleries from a young age. “In the States, London, Paris, the Middle East – wherever I go I find a lot of art,” she says, adding that she personally worked in the interior design industry for more than ten years and has been collecting art for years. “It’s a bit of a space issue at our house,” she laughs. “My husband and I each have our own individual taste, so between us we probably have close to 400 pieces in our house. We’re never sure where to put it all, how to store and display it…”
With such an overriding passion, it’s no wonder that Rebecca has started The Collection Gallery. But she’s also catering to a market that has, she adds, previously remained untapped. “Visiting the art scene in Cyprus, including the museums, I noticed that there wasn’t a proper space dedicated to art, a gallery with pieces for sale, that felt as if it were in the 21st century, something you might find in London or Berlin. What I mean,” she clarifies, “is that a gallery should be a neutral space, with the volume and perspective of space, and proper lighting. A place to make you contemplate the artworks that you see. So I took eight months to turn this space into a gallery – it’s my own vision. My vision was to have a very neutral white box. So that the art can speak, and invite a dialogue with the viewer.”
And she’s trying to promote a variety of mediums. “For the time being, oil on canvas is the most valued medium in Cyprus; people seem to be afraid of the reliability of, for example, prints or yarn, Plexiglas or installation art. They don’t perceive it as necessarily valuable. But the vision here at the Gallery includes the emphasis of art as a tool for investment, not just for a decorative or aesthetic purpose. Art is not just what you see, it’s beyond that –it needs to have a concept, originality; there should be an intellectual content which beauty alone cannot produce, context and content play a large part.
“Good art breaks your heart and makes you think – it creates emotion,” she adds. “It challenges you, makes you think of the piece and recall it later. And it should have a relevance to many generations, which is why truly good art is timeless.” There also comes the need to give back to the community. Hence the upcoming auction in support of the Anti-Cancer Society of Cyprus – one of the many charitable events on the calendar.
“I’ve been wanting to undertake a charitable initiative of this type for a while now,” Rebecca explains, adding that this is a venture she plans to undertake twice a year, in aid of different organisations, “and the Gallery has given me that opportunity.” With a total of approximately 50 pieces from 40 artists (many are already in situ), several of the pieces will have a starting price as low as €100. “Even the most valuable will begin no more than 500 euros,” Rebecca concludes.
A ‘space’ then, that’s not only the last word in contemporary art, but also has soul; a place well worth a visit.
The Collection Gallery
In Nicosia hosts the exhibition Embody until December 5. The auction in aid of the Anti-Cancer Society takes place on November 28 (preview November 27); all are welcome. Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 10.00 – 13.00 and 16.00 – 20.00. For more information visit the Facebook page ‘The Collection Gallery’, email [email protected] or call 99 585172 or 99 206296