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A personal and group exploration of the human condition

'Electric' oil painting by Hannah Uhde

Two artists, Lara Sophie Benjamin and Hannah Uhde, will show how the physical process of painting and the sparks from another painter’s artistic aura can create intense and beautiful works in their exhibition Duality as of Tuesday at Opus Gallery in Nicosia.

The paintings do more than just bring ideas together, they also bring people of different backgrounds together. Benjamin – who has participated in many group exhibitions and had her first solo exhibition last year – is Cypriot while Uhde is American. They both have strong identities, yet share the need to explore new territories and be challenged.

The two met in 2009 at the Cyprus College of Art. Uhde had read about it online and travelled from Montana to do her postgraduate there. “I was in the first year of my undergraduate,” Benjamin recalls “and we became close friends very quickly. We actually went seven years without seeing each other in person after that, but last year Hannah visited me and has been going back and forth between Cyprus and Montana ever since, as she has a strong connection to the island and finds that it has a positive effect on her artwork.”

This positive effect is clear in Uhde’s paintings and the importance of working with another artistic individual reflects in Benjamin’s work. Also, during the collaboration, the pair’s work became an exploration of their relationship and their art. They both “feed off each other when working close to each other” as Benjamin put it. But physical space was not always possible, so this process had to be completed with the aid of photographs at some stages.

As the 25 pieces on display – by each artist individually and by them both together – were created out of a need for the artists to further explore their selves and their art, the human form was an “appropriate vehicle for our investigation into the self and our connections to the people and the world around us, emotional states and the human condition. Our figures are faceless or have nondescript faces because they are not depictions of a specific person but could be anyone and everyone,” Benjamin said.

The exhibition will be opened by artist Andros Efstathiou at 7.30pm.

Exhibition by Lara Sophie Benjamin and Hannah Uhde. Opens October 2 at 7.30pm until October 13. Opus 39 Gallery, 21 Kimonos Street, Nicosia. Monday: 5pm-8pm. Tuesday-Friday: 10.30am-12.30pm and 5pm-8pm. Tel: 22-424983

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