By Heidi Trautmann
Niki Marangou is a story teller, be it in her many books or with the brush. She is also a traveler and is used to take notes of her experiences in her sketchbook. When you enter her exhibition at Aeschylou 38 in Old Nicosia, (until May 20) just behind the Phanoromeni School – by the way a most beautiful venue – you enter Niki’s world of thoughts, her perception of small things such as a teapot, the view from Anna’s veranda – it must be her sister Anna’s veranda, also a writer - or a sofa in an old house, her memories of a journey to Tunis or Athens, painted in water colours. One can recognize her way of thinking, a very intimate way. One project which has come new to her I believe, I have not asked her – is like a red thread through her new exhibition, that is fishes: the return of fishes, fishes at night, Nicosia with fishes. In acrylic, as etchings or collages. Lovely. I wonder what she means to say by it. Fishes are a symbol often used in Cyprus art, often in a spiritual way, for being an island, for wanting to get away, becoming mobile rather than catching them because Cypriots are not a nation of fishermen, rather bound to the soil. A new hope perhaps?
It is 16 years ago that Niki had her last exhibition, she said. She remembers the days when she went with her friends to paint outside in nature. Is there a little melancholy? Painting is a beautiful way of talking of one’s feelings; her poems and stories are very much the same, her love for the hidden things such as in the “Sourdough”:
I think of the women who awoke
with the morning star to knead bread
The Christians with sourdough made
with blessed water from the feast of the Cross
and the Turks with water from the first rains.
Both carried their babies on their backs
and their knowledge about the sanctity of life.
Their men sometimes forgot about that.
Translation: Xenia Andreou
On the same occasion she presented her newly published book on Cypriot women, for the moment being in Greek only but it is planned to have it translated. I am very much looking forward to it. Only recently her book “From Nicosia to Vienna” had come out in Turkish as well, besides many other languages.
Her exhibition describes Niki best, better than her biography, as a very sensitive woman, writer and poet, and fine artist. Nevertheless, I have taken some notes from her biography:
Born in Limassol, Cyprus 1948. Studied sociology in West Berlin from 1965-70. Worked for ten years as dramaturg at the State Theatre of Cyprus. From 1980-2007 she was directing KOCHLIAS BOOKSHOP in Nicosia.
She has published books of prose, poetry and children’s fairy tales and won state prizes for her literary work. In 1998 she won in Alexandria the Cavafy prize for poetry. She is a member of the Hellenic Authors Society and the Cyprus Writers Assosiation. In 2006 she received the poetry award from the Athens Academy for her book DIVAN. In May 2008 her book THE DEMON OF LUST was chosen by DIAVAZO REWARDS in Athens as among the ten best short stories of the year. In 2004 her poem “Roses” was chosen to be hung in waiting rooms in NHS Hospitals in the UK. Her poems are included in the “European constitution in verse” of the Brussels Poetry Collective (2009) and in the cd «Nachrichten von der Poesie» (Random House) edited by Joachim Sartorius.
She had seven exhibitions of her work in painting. She lives in Nicosia and has a daughter who is a painter.
The exhibition will be open until May 20, daily from 17.00-20.00, Saturdays 11-14.00 and after appointment at the tel. 99 301608
More on her website: www.marangou.com