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Feature - Discover European Cyprus in Brussels
22.06.2012, 08:02 (CET)
Cyprus’ European cultural identity and the island’s role as an inspiration for European artists through the centuries will be on display in Brussels until the end of September, at the historic BOZAR (Palais des Beaux-Arts).

The exhibition “Mapping Cyprus: Crusaders, Traders and Explorers”, open to the public since yesterday at the Bozar Expo, will be a window to the rich history of Cyprus during almost eight centuries of European and Ottoman rule.

Cyprus in Brussels

The exhibition’s curator, Ms. Loukia Loizou-Hadjigavriel, said she hopes that the exhibition will help the European public understand “the complicated and varied history of Cyprus”. On the occasion of the upcoming Cyprus Presidency, the exhibition will highlight that Cyprus belongs, both politically and culturally, to the EU.

The exhibition will run through until September 23, 2012, will be inaugurated by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, in a special ceremony on July 2.

Much more than just a review of the island’s colonial past, the exhibition illustrates Cyprus’ long-standing relations with the European continent and reflects how Byzantine, Western and Venetian art merged and left its mark on the island’s culture.

Organised to mark the assumption of the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU by Cyprus for the first time since its EU membership in 2004, the “Mapping Cyprus: Crusaders, Traders and Explorers” exhibition highlights the role of Cyprus as part of the European family, from being “the last bastion of Western civilisation in the Mediterranean” to an equal member state of the EU, as Hadjigavriel said.

Caterina Cornaro, the last Queen of Cyprus.

History

Located between three continents, Cyprus was long coveted by competing civilisations and was occupied by a succession of them. Cyprus was a colony of the Franks, the Venetians, the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire since its capture by Richard the Lionheart in 1192 during the Crusades. The island gained independence from Britain in 1960 and became a full member of the EU in 2004. With Cyprus assuming the presidency of the Council of the EU, the exhibition serves as an introduction of the European public to the island.

Apostole Varnavas, the founder of the Church of Cyprus.

Concept

With cultural interchange between Cyprus and the European continent placed at the core of the exhibition, artefacts were chosen to reflect the double nature of the process.

“The museological approach has two focus points-pillars. The first is the local element, where Cypriot residents are presented through the common characteristics which represent their own mentality, education and cultural heritage. The second pillar focuses on the European continent and recounts the manner, method and perception of the Europeans on Cyprus from the Crusades until the present day”, said Hadjigavriel.

Through the exhibition, the public will have the opportunity to explore the history of the island through the eyes of European painters, cartographers, writers and photographers and at the same time witness the cultural interchange that took place with the byzantine culture which characterised  the local population.

“Byzantine and post-byzantine art is the common denominator we sought to highlight in its consistent presence in the history of the island” the exhibition’s curator said.

History on display: West meets east

In recounting  Cyprus’ rich and complex history from 1192 to the present day, the exhibition’s fifteen thematic rooms boast a wide range of icons, geographical maps, publications, manuscripts and photos gathered from museums, libraries, art galleries and churches from around Europe and Cyprus.

Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the legacy of the Frankish, Venetian, Ottoman and British rule in the shaping of the island’s identity as presented through local and European architecture, maps, manuscripts, music and artefacts.