By Bejay Browne
The remarkable story of how a Turkish Cypriot sculptor found, saved and finally returned the works of a Greek Cypriot artist who had left them behind in Famagusta after 1974 is one of the official events for Paphos’ Cultural Capital 2017 programme.
An introductory presentation on the May 2017 ‘Risky Travels’ exhibition of works by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot artists – Andy Adamos and Baki Bogac – is being held in Paphos next week.
As one of the official events that helped to secure the town’s upcoming capital of culture title, Sergis Hadjiadamos, son of the late Andy Adamos, will elaborate on the idea behind the exhibition which will include Adamos’ rescued sculptures and drawings, as well as works of art by Bogac.
Anastazia Anastasiou of ‘Pafos2017’ said that the true story highlighted the power that the arts and altruism have in exceeding differences, obstacles and borders.
“Baki Bogac, an architect and sculptor, found and rescued the artworks of Andy Adamos, which were left in Famagusta in 1974. For nineteen years Baki looked after the artworks and returned them to Andy’s family in Paphos in 1993,” she said.
Hadjiadamos told the Sunday Mail that his family had been struck by Bogac’s courage and determination to return his late father’s work to the family and wanted to thank him.
Hadjiadamos stressed that without Bogac’s dogged determination, following the 1974 Turkish invasion, many of his father’s works would have been lost for ever.
“The exhibition was conceived by us as a token of our gratitude towards Baki for the return of the artworks of my father in 1993,” he said.
“Baki is himself a refugee from Larnaca and holds no bitterness, instead he did this wonderful thing for my family.”
Adamos was a sculptor, engraver, painter and author, born in Paphos in 1936 and died in 1990. From 1965 to 1970, he taught art at schools in Cyprus and from 1970 to 1972, he worked as head of the sculpture department at the Durban Technikon, South Africa.
At the end of 1972, the artist returned to Cyprus and taught sculpture at his studio in Famagusta. In 1974, he left Cyprus as a refugee.
“In August 1974, my father was living in Famagusta, where he maintained his art studio. He lived with my mother and my brother, my mother was pregnant with me at the time of the invasion,” said Hadjiadamos.
Following the invasion, his parents first went to the UK and then onto South Africa, where he was born. “My father didn’t feel very comfortable there and so we came back to Paphos in 1980.”
Adamos went on to win the first prize at the International Biennale of Cairo in 1986 and publish three books before his death in 1990.
Hadjiadamos said that it was by chance at the first bi-communal exhibition of artists in the early 1990s at Famagusta Gate in Nicosia that Bogac managed to find a connection to Adamos, which led to the eventual return of the lost art work in 1993.
“Baki took a big risk to keep my father’s work safe for so many years and also to return it. It was risky because in 1993, the Turkish army and government weren’t keen on this kind of behaviour. We kept it a secret until 2004.”
Salvaged art work includes a 200 kilo statue, a large painting and a number of drawings, he said.
Hadjiadamos said that in 1976, a special mission from the ‘interior ministry’ in the north were sent to Famagusta to record an inventory of the buildings and belongings of Greek Cypriots that were left behind after the invasion.
“Luckily for us, Baki Bogac took part in this mission. He was in charge of listing the buildings of the surrounding area, in which he discovered my father’s abandoned studio,” he said.
Hadjiadamos said that when Bogac entered the studio, he was surprised by the body of artwork he found, as his father hadn’t been able to take much with him as he fled.
“Baki immediately recognised the value and later said that these works of art were not done by an amateur, they were works of a professional, and he realised that this was his studio.”
Bogac rescued the works of art and set about trying to locate and meet the artist that created them, and return them.
“Risky Travels, is the product of Baki Bogac’s perseverance, and also of a series of fortunate coincidences that made our meeting with him possible,” said Hadjiadamos.
Hadjiadamos said that although his father Adamos, died in 1990 and didn’t get a chance to meet Bogac, the Turkish Cypriot artist had become like an uncle to him.
“After the border opened in Cyprus in 2004, he came to visit us and he has become a good family friend.”
He added that although the artist is now suffering from Parkinson’s disease, he will be present at the Paphos event, most probably with his wife and daughter.
During the introductory presentation of the ‘Risky Travels’, which will take place on Wednesday April 13th at 6pm, at PaliaIlektriki cultural centre in Paphos, Greek author and curator Thanos Stathopoulos will present the two artists’ work.
The trilingual exhibition catalogue will be presented, and numbered prints of etchings and wood carvings from plaques which were saved by Bogac will be available for sale.
Organisers are also looking for sponsors and supporters for the May 2017 exhibition.
SergisHadjiadamos- [email protected]