Δευτέρα, 12 Μαρτίου 2018

Helen Lieros' “Fresco Secco” in the Orthodox Cathedral of the Archangels in Mozambique’s capital (Maputo)


The Apocalypse

Lieros: Multifaceted, exceptional artist
The Herald

The photos of the icons are from the article Η εικονογράφηση του Ελληνορθόδοξου Ναού στο Μαπούτο της Μοζαμβίκης δια χειρός Helen Lieros / A Igreja Ortodoxa Grega no Maputo by fr Panayiotis Kapodistrias (in Greek).

Stephen Garan’anga : Visual Art

When we took up our artistic arms decades ago to venture into professional visual art through the then famous BAT Visual Arts Studios of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe we knew there existed a local venerate artist Helen Lieros and Gallery Delta. But we had not yet grasped what it is that makes one an exceptional artist and be widely recognised as a referral point in society. She was the first established artist to descend to the BAT Studios at the beginning of our foundation period and embraced us with her career art talk.
From that moment we were equipped with determination and genuine insight of the artistic journey that exterminate short cuts we had embarked on. We became highly inquisitive to perceive what she does and never missed out on most of her local participation in exhibitions especially at her confounded Gallery Delta.
Over the years what we have known on the surface of Helen locally is that she is a multifaceted no nonsense senior artist of high talent who expresses herself mostly in highly textural abstract painting work of rich colour from self-made pigments.


The Dormation of the Holy Mother (see here & here)
 
Her handmade paper too is a highly exploited surface of her work as a painter, drafts person and master printmaker and above all a generous warm-hearted and God fearing individual. Having highlighted the above few there are other critical attributes which need to be understood that uplifted her to reach the dizzy heights of creativity that we are accustomed to today.
This has a history, a tale of conquered obstacles through sheer hard work and resilience. Her recently launched art book at Gallery Delta Foundation for Art and the Humanities titled “Helen Lieros Mural Paintings” authored by her husband and co-founder of Gallery Delta, publisher Derek Huggins reveals she is a painter of the old masters’ calibre who executed great frescos of centuries still withstanding, appreciated and enjoyed by millions the world over by executing her own in Maputo, Mozambique.
The high definition images of her “Fresco Secco” which she locally first showed at Hellenic School in Harare when she gave her talk about the work now in a compact thick volume book illustrate magnificent human and animal anatomy with sublime flow of linear work of the drapery entailing what hard work and artistic talent is.
It is a rarity in this modern era to have an individual painter of one nation to be invited to another to partake such a mammoth task of furnishing the entirety of interior walls of an enormous iconic holly chapel with biblical events. She had to be the one fearless and capable to take us back to painting as we have known it.

 
The Panagia and Child (Moder of God the "The widest of the skies" / "more spacious than the heavens" with Jesus Christ)

Her “Fresco Secco” in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel in Mozambique’s capital attests to her remarkable consciousness of the subject, space, period and equally critical her incredible physical and mental strength which enabled her to well accomplish the masterpiece grafting even at above seventy. The work was executed over segmented periods of 1996 to 2002, 2008 to 2009 and finalised in 2013.
The project was conceived in 1996 when she was approached by the Honorary Greek Consul of Mozambique, George Tsihlakis, to paint murals in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Maputo. He had seen murals done just shy of three decades earlier by Helen in Harare’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. He furnished her with images of the naked interior walls and invited her to visit the holy space. She accepted to do justice to the call and with her typical whole painting kit from Zimbabwe she embarked on the execution of the “Apocalypse”, her first work of the fresco, with reference from the biblical book of Revelations. With the subject her intention was to have something which the general populace and worshippers would relate to and realise the necessity of peace.

The Crucifixion
 
Repeatedly before, Helen has exclaimed her worries about “Mankind Repeating History”. She is concerned with the archetypal, which exists still in the passions of man, and the apocalypse. Myth, art and fact in the ancient Greek civilisation revealed the struggles of man.
Now as then, we are confronted by natural disasters, civil unrest, conflicts and wars, and the search for justice and peace. In reality these events become apocalyptic as predicted.
Her thoughts are portrayed by archetypes in their battles, flights and migrations in their search for freedom and as related to the African continent.
The Ephitafios
In her statement on the execution of the “Apocalypse” she said “Considering the history and circumstances of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel at Maputo — atheism and communism had prevailed — my feelings were strong to eradicate the past in this beautiful but empty house of God by strong symbolism from the Book of Revelations, which I felt was apt.
I had many thoughts and had prepared many drawings and sketches. Climbing the scaffolding, I was in fear but started with zest by painting, on the left hand side of the wall, the Maputo Cathedral with Christ crucified in front and protecting it.
 
Then I put in the white ram and the “Alpha and Omega”, and surrounded by the four symbols of the winged lion, human, bird and bull. Further down lies Saint John who dreams as God tells him what to write. In the background are the seven churches and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Below, in the foreground lie dead figures, depicting wars, and illness by fling frogs as stated in the Book of Revelations that the people vomited”.
Her interpretations were created taking into account that it was a Greek Orthodox cathedral in Africa and necessity dictated figurative work. Encompassing narratives she has forsaken the traditional Byzantine style feeling that the essence should be vivid colour, impact and power. However, she respected the Orthodox tradition by the execution of such paintings as “The Panagia and Child” in a sanctuary behind the altar and “The Pantocrator” in a five-meter wide dome twenty five metres from the floor.

The Judgement
The Creation
In total she painted about 15 enormous works in the church which included “The Creation”, “The Nativity”, “The Crucifixion”, “The Entombment of Christ”, “The Dormation of the Holy Mother”, “The Judgement”, “Homage to the Holy Fathers” and concluded in 2002 with “The Pantocrator”. In 2008 she was asked again to come back and carry out more work on other walls and worked on “The Massacre of Infants”, “The Trial of Christ”, and “The Procession of Soldier Saints” and “The Ephitafios” completed in 2009. The final recall was in 2013 when she executed “The Baptism of Christ”, “Christ Asleep in the Tempest” and “The Healing of the Blind Man”.
Hats off to the local star and may her work continue to be of great inspiration to many.

Helen Lieros - Biography (from the article of fr Panayiotis Kapodistrias)
 
1958/62 Studied at Ecole des Beaux Arts, Geneva * 1960 First Prize, Association of Women Artists, awarded by the Swiss Government * 1961/62 Prix de Holzer & Bursary - State Scholarship * 1962 Diploma and Arts Degree with Honours, Geneva * 1962/3 Scholarship to the Institute da Statale d’Arte, Florence, awarded by the Italian Government * 1964 Returned home and taught at Chaplin School, Gweru for three years * 1985/86 Perfectionment Artistique, Ecole Superieure D’Art Visuel, Geneva: Awarded for improvisation of materials, pigments, colour and painting * 1967/2009 Lives and works in Harare

Workshops
 
1977/79/84/85/89 Attended Centre des Gravure Contemporaine, Geneva. Etching with D. Diovorne, Ecole Superieure D’Art Visual, Geneva. 1990 Invited Artist in Residence, Wanganui Summer Workshop, New Zealand.

Commissions 
 
1967 Executed four large murals at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Harare. 1996-2002 Executed murals (fresco secco) for the entire Greek Orthodox Cathedral at Maputo, Mozambique. 2008 Invited to return to Maputo to undertake new wall paintings in Greek Orthodox Cathederal. 
 

Permanent Collections 
 
Permanent Collection, National Gallery of Zimbabwe * The Cabinet des Estamps and Centre de la Gravure, Geneva. Museum of African Arts, Paris * Wilfredo Lam Museum, Cuba. Mini-Print International, Cadaques, Spain * Pinakothiki Sophia Laskaridou, Athens

Exhibitions (Solo)
 
1966 Naikes’ Gallery, Bulawayo. 1968 Polworth’s Galleries, Harare. 1970 Barbour’s Gallery, Harare. 1970 Stoa Texnis Gallery, Athens. 1972/75 Tara Arts & Seven Arts, Harare. 1973 Diogenes International Galleries, Athens. 1979 Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1983 Selected works, PG Gallery, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare. 1985 Galerie Chausse Coqs, Geneva. 1991 Major Retrospective Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare. 1995 “Diary of an Inheritance” Gallery Delta, Harare 1995 “Antithesis”, Mayfair Gallery, London. 1998 “Logos - The Word - Gallery Delta, Harare. 2004 Retrospective Exhibition - a selection of paintings and graphics over three decades 1974 -2004, Gallery Delta, Harare. 2004 “Diaspora” Sophia Laskaridou Pinakothiki (State Gallery) Athens, Greece. 2005 ‘Aeons,’ National Gallery of Zimbabwe. 2007 ‘Antithesis,’Sophia Laskaridou Pinakothiki, Athens, Greece. 
 
The Nativity
 
Exhibitions (Group)
 
1967 Federation of British Artists, London. 1971 Rhodesian Art, Beira, Mozambique. 1971 The National Annual Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe and frequently in ensuing years to present. 1972 American Embassy, Athens. 1974 Young Artists of Promise, Athens. 1974 The First Circle Exhibition, Harare. 1975 Rhodesian Select Exhibition, Ned-Art Gallery, Johannesburg. 1975 Graphics and Drawing Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1975 Art Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1976 Exhibition Arta, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1976 Select Rhodesian Artist’s Exhibition, Rand Show. 1977 Art Exhibition, Gallery Delta,, Harare. 1977 Aspects from Geneva, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1977 Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1977 Environmental and Experimental Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare. 1978 Emergent Art, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1979 International Etching Exhibition, Centre de la Gravure,
Geneva. 1979 Art Forms, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1980 Art Zimbabwe Exhibition, National Pavilion, Rand Show, Johannesburg. 1980 Expo 80: Graphics, Paintings, Ceramics and Sculpture, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1980 Creative Forms, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1980 Aspects from Geneva 2, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1981 Art Do Zimbabwe, Maputo, Mozambique. 1981 Graphics and Paintings Gallery Delta, Harare 1981 Summer Exhibition Gallery Delta, Harare. 1981/83 Recent Zimbabwean Literary & Art Exhibition, London and touring UK. 1981/82 Commonwealth Overseas League Exhibition, London. 1982 Art Forms 82, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1982 Paintings, Graphics and Ceramics, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1983 Solidarity Week, Beira, Mozambique. 1983 Spirit of Zimbabwe Exhibition, London. 1983 International All Africa Painting Exhibition, Dakar, Senegal. 1984 Black and White, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1984 Contemporary Graphics, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1985 Contemporary Graphics, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1985 Form and Symbol, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1985 Centre Genevois de la Gravure Contemporaine, Geneva. 1986 National Gallery of Zimbabwe Annual (NAM) Baringa Exhibition: (Special Mention in recognition of an artist who has made significant individual contribution “towards pinnacles of excellence in contemporary Zimbabwean art”). 1986 Wilfredo Lam Museum (Cuban Biennale). 1986 Mini-Print (Graphics) International, Cadaques, Spain and USA. 1986 Graphics 86, Gallery Delta, Harare 1986 Painting, Sculptures and Ceramics, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1986 Contemporary Zimbabwean Art, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1987 Platform 5 Images, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1987 Paintings and Sculptures, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1988 Paintings, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1988 Graphics, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1988 National Gallery of Zimbabwe Travelling Exhibition - New Delhi, India. 1988 Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare. 1989 Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Award of Merit (Painting), Award of Merit (Graphics). 1990 Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, First Recipient of the President’s Award of Honour. 1990 Commonwealth Arts Festival & Symposium, Auckland, New Zealand: One of 5 Zimbabwean artists invited to participate. 1990 Graphics, Gallery Delta, Harare 1990 Mini-Print International Exhibition, Cadaques, Spain. 1990 The New Decade, Gallery Delta, Harare 1990 The Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1991 Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Invited Artist. First of five selected artists presented to HM Queen Elizabeth II. 1991 The Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1992 Small Works by Prominent Artists, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1992 Contrasts, Gallery Delta, Harare 1992/94 Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe: Invited Artist. 1992 War on Want, Savannah Gallery, London. 1992 Hope and Optimism Portfolio, Oxford, England. 1993 Graphics Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare 1993 Prominent Artists, Gallery Delta, Harare 1993 8 African Women Artists, Savannah Gallery, London. 1994 Graphics Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare 1994 The Land Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare 1994 Prominent Artists Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare 1994 Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare 1995 Gallery Delta - 20 Years, Gallery Delta, Harare 1995 Johannesburg Biennale, Zimbabwe Participant. 1996 The Land, The Landmark, The Landscape, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1996 Contemporary Art in Zimbabwe Today, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1996 Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta, Harare. 1997 Graphics Exhibition, Gallery Delta 1997 Prominent Artists Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 1997 Landscape - The Changing Scene, Gallery Delta 1997 Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta 1997 MBCA Decade of Award Winners, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare 1998 Crossing Boundaries, The International Museum of Twentieth Century Art, Unesco Headquarters, Paris and Expo, Lisbon - representing Zimbabwe. 1998 The Graphics Group Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 1998 The Prominent Artists’ Exhibition, Gallery Delta 1998 Invited Artist, First Biennale, National Gallery of Zimbabwe 1999 Works on Paper Exhibition - Gallery Delta 1999 Festival Exhibition - Gallery Delta 1999 The Land Exhibition - Gallery Delta 1999 Prominent Artists Exhibition, Gallery Delta 1999 The Eve of the New Millennium Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2000 Works on Paper Exhibition Gallery Delta 2000 Gallery Delta - 25th Anniversary Exhibition 2000 Earth Vision Exhibition - Gallery Delta. 2000 Post Election Selection - Gallery Delta 2000 Ikons, Gallery Delta. 2000 The summer Exhibition - Gallery Delta. 2001 Art from Zimbabwe. Art in Zimbabwe. Iwalelwa House University of Bayreuth, Germany. 2001 Eclectic - Gallery Delta. 2001 Wargames - Gallery Delta with Arthur Azevedo. 2001 The Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2002 Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Greece. 2002 The Small Works - View Point / Split Image Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2002 Explorations II, Gallery Delta.  2002 Totems Exhibition, Gallery Delta 2002 The Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2003 Olympiad 2004, Gallery Delta. 2003 Landscape Paintings, Gallery Delta 2003 Small Works - Insight, Gallery Delta. 2003 Ikons Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2003 The Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2004 The Collector’s Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2004 Fight Aids, Celebrate Life, Gallery Delta. 2004 A Collection of Small Works, Gallery Delta. 2004 Works on Paper - Drawings and Graphics, Gallery Delta. 2004 The Collector’s Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2004 Fight Aids, Celebrate Life, Gallery Delta. 2004 A Collection of Small Works. Gallery Delta. 2004 Old and Modern, Gallery Delta. 2004 Legacy, Pasinger Fabrik, Munich, Germany. 2004 The Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta 2005 Books, Words and Writings, Gallery Delta. 2005 Gallery Delta 30years, Gallery Delta. 2005 Black and White, Gallery Delta. 2005 Small Works, Gallery Delta. 2005 Landmark, Gallery Delta. 2005 The Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2006 Fragments of the Past – Lost Words, Lost Letters, Lost People: (With Marcos Villalta Pucci) Harare International Festival of Arts, National Gallery of Zimbabwe. 2005 Frame within a Frame, Gallery Delta. 2005 Expediency, Gallery Delta. 2005 The Post Election Selection, Gallery Delta. 2005 A Select Collection. 2006 Rembrandt: An African Response on his 400th Birthday, Gallery Delta. 2006 Drawings and Graphics, Gallery Delta. 2006 A Select Collection, Gallery Delta. 2007 Peace Through Unity In Diversity, Gallery Delta. 2008 The Summer Exhibition, Gallery Delta. 2009 The Land, Gallery Delta

Publications
 
Illustrated catalogues: National Gallery of Zimbabwe. * Arts Rhodesia, National Arts Foundation of Rhodesia, 1978 * Arts Zimbabwe, National Arts Foundation of Zimbabwe 1982 * Insight (Jan 1983) and other Newsletters of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe * Inflight Air Zimbabwe Magazine - cover.* Le Soleil, Dakar, 1983 * Africa Asia, Encyclopaedia Zimbabwe,1986 * Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture, Celia Winter-Irving, 1990 * Zimbabwe Heritage Catalogue 1990 - cover * 10 Jahre Zimbabwe Emotion and Kunst, Marie and Christian Schlaga, 1990 * Helen of Gweru, Fiona Lloyd, South Africa, 1991.* Article by the Artist, Southern African Art 1992 * Zimbabwean Women in Contemporary Culture, Diary, 1992 * Greek Artists Abroad, produced and published by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Athens * Africa World Art Review, Arts and Culture, 1993 * Gallery Magazine No. 4, and others in the series, Gallery Publications, 1995 * Zimbabwe: Legacies of Stone, Past and Present volumne II, Geert G. Bourgois, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium, 1997 * Gallery Magazine No 20 ,“Painting the Self”, Gallery Publications, 1999 * Gallery Magazine No 30, “Helen Lieros at Home”, Gallery Publications 2001.
 
See also 

Holy Icons (tag)

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