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Essential to life itself

This is the key to life. Without it, every cell in your body would die, the signals to, from and within your brain would cease, and you’d be dead within a week. It’s an essential component of our blood, sweat and tears, and has been one of the most prized commodities throughout history – lending its Latin name to our word ‘salary’, and ensuring our ancestors remained nutritionally fortified during the long medieval winters. Without it our lives would be flavourless. And in this sense, say organisers of the upcoming exhibition, salt is like art, it’s crucial to our survival.

Opening today at TRADE in Limassol, SALT is a collaborative exhibition between a dynamic trio of Cyprus-based artists: Opsis, Amber Lee and Alex Welch. And while all three work in entirely different mediums, their common philosophies of both life and art have united them under the theme of ‘salt’.

“Salt is a strong, simple, elegant name which evokes a sense of the Mediterranean, the history of Cyprus, and it’s an essential element to every form of life,” says Alex, describing the choice of name. Like art, he suggests, salt enhances the flavour of both our food and our lives: in many ways both are the foundation of civilisation as we know it. “And it’s the unifying element for our three, very different styles: while Amber’s work always includes elements of boats and sea travel, and Opsis often uses materials reclaimed from the sea, I work with metal and the use of salt in the oxidisation process is crucial,” he explains. Three very different artists, then, united under a common theme in a collaboration that’s sure to be the freshest thing to come out of Limassol this month…

Fragmentary dreamscapes and marine surrealism are the hallmark of Opsis’ multimedia pieces, which are created from salvaged materials. Working with reclaimed objects found scattered on remote beaches or in abandoned buildings, the artist uses these materials as “a main support to create reflections of our modern world with mixed media, attracted to the atmosphere of these places, the eeriness and the quiet of a location void of human presence yet full of human traces; the stories left behind.” With a particular affinity for “the symbols of our times, our throwaway society; a reminder of our short sightedness, of an illusion”, Opsis’ exhibition pieces require the viewer to look beyond the aesthetic realm to understand the choice of material and its significance, to a “dreamy yet ironic context where nature has another place”.

In contrast to Opsis’ sweeping murals and organic sculptures, Amber Lee’s pieces plunge the viewer into an intricate world of emotional catharsis. Predominantly black and white, her illustrations are riddled with hidden detail: diminutive sailboats, fairy-tale cottages and exquisite fish hide betwixt the tentacles of sea monsters in an exquisite marriage of monochromatic line and form. “Death and rebirth, matters of the heart and soul, are all recurring themes in her work,” organisers reveal. “Each drawing or piece she produces is a struggle; a struggle to work through a feeling or emotion that conveys the message that the human experience is a construct that lies within our own minds and hands and great beauty can be found in even the ugliest of circumstances… As the illustration unfolds, she realises and releases these feelings, finding solution and salvation on the page.”

The final member of the trio, Alex Welch, bases his work on the natural world as a reflection of an ongoing process of exploration and experimentation in his materials, their form and finish. A sculptor and blacksmith, he works in the main with steel, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, combining these to produce “various sized structures and forms that convey the chosen subject matter in an exaggerated or morphed fashion”. Experimenting with patina and oxidation, texture and form, Alex’s current body of work focuses mainly on the insect world: “The hidden architects of our world, a microcosm of industrial creatures which are essential to our existence yet often unnoticed, from the chrysalis as a vessel of transformation to the bee as a method of pollination…”

With such intriguing descriptions of the work, this is an exhibition that is sure to push the boundaries of artistic innovation. Head on down to TRADE this coming week for a collaborative exhibition that will add a much-needed sprinkling of salt to your life.
SALT
Collaborative art exhibition featuring work by Opsis, Amber Lee and Alex Welch from May 8 (opening night, 7pm) to May 29 at TRADE exhibition space in Limassol. Opening hours: 11am to 8pm every day. For more information, email [email protected], call 97830068 or visit www.copperlemon.com

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