By Janice Ruffle
I feel compelled to share an extraordinary story of human compassion and respect.
A story of a Turkish Cypriot man’s determination to return artworks he discovered in the occupied north of Cyprus, to Greek Cypriot family owners.
My friend Sergis Hadjiadamos, one of the sons of the late artist Andy Adamos, is the “author” of this incredible tale.
“In August 1974, my father was living in Famagusta, where he maintained his art studio. He lived with my mother and my brother. My mother was pregnant with me at the time of the invasion,” says Sergis.
In 1976, two years after the Turkish invasion, a special mission, sent by the occupying forces, records the abandoned buildings in the city of Famagusta. Part of this mission was Turkish Cypriot architect and sculptor Baki Bogac (photo).
Baki visited the area many times with an escort of soldiers. At some point, he entered a house, and, being an artist himself, he was impressed by what he saw: sculptures, paintings, photographs, art exhibition catalogues, all scattered on the floor.
It was Andy Adamos’ art studio. Reading his biography from the catalogues Baki realised that he was in the studio of an important artist. He asked to take a few items, but the soldiers didn’t allow it.
Baki confided his story to the American Council’s Director, and, during an art exhibition titled ‘Brushstrokes Across Cultures’, he asked for her assistance to deliver the collection to its rightful owner. The delivery took place in 1993, three years after Adamos’ death.
“Baki’s determination to keep my father’s artworks safe for so many years, and also to return them, has been remarkable,” says Sergis.
It was risky because, in 1993, the Turkish army and government weren’t keen on this kind of behaviour. So, it remained a secret until 2004.
Andy Adamos didn’t get a chance to meet Baki personally. However, Baki has become like an uncle to Sergis.
Out of gratitude and respect for Baki Bogac for the return of the Adamos artworks, Sergis and his family have created an exhibition combining artworks of both artists.
The returned artworks will hold a special place at an exhibition, while, simultaneously, including sculptures from different creative periods of the two artists.
The exhibition will sum up this true story, indicative of the power of art in overcoming differences, barriers and borders.
‘Risky Travels’, the theme title of the exhibition, will take place from May 5 until June 4, from 4-6pm at Palia Ilektriki cultural centre in Paphos. The inauguration is scheduled for May 5 at 7pm. The exhibition is curated by Sergis Hadjiadamos and Yiannis Sakellis. Entrance is free.