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Michael Zampelas Dies Aged 82

Michael Zampelas Dies Aged 82

Michael Zampelas, former Mayor of Nicosia and prominent figure in the accounting profession, passed away at the age of 82, on May 15.

Michael Zampelas became a Chartered Accountant in 1965. Together with his associates, in 1970 he established the accounting and consulting firm Coopers & Lybrand in Cyprus and Athens, which opened up new horizons for the development of the accounting profession in the two countries. He served the firm as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from its establishment until 2001 and as non-Executive Chairman from 2002 until 2005. As a result of a merger with Price Waterhouse in 1998, the firm became PricewaterhouseCoopers and today it employs around 1,000 partners and staff in Cyprus.

Michael Zampelas has contributed greatly to the enhancement of the image of the island’s accounting profession and he has been honoured on two occasions by the Board of The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus for his visionary services to the accounting and auditing profession and, by extension, for his contribution the economy of Cyprus.

In 2002 he was elected Mayor of Nicosia and he served a 5-year term, and his contribution to the educational, cultural, community and business sectors has been continuous. In 2012, he received an honorary award at the CIPA International Investment Awards. His most recent venture has been the founding of the Loukia and Michael Zampelas Art Museum, a non-profit private organisation, which houses the permanent art collection of the Zampelas family and hosts exhibitions of artists from Cyprus and abroad.

In his latest interview, published in Eurobank’s ‘The Cyprus Journal of Wealth Management’, Michael Zampelas spoke about how the Art Museum holds two parallel legacies: it portrays the passion of its founders whilst weaving together the modern history of local culture.

Michael Zampelas has long been associated with wealth management as the founder and CEO of Coopers & Lybrand (later PricewaterhouseCoopers and eventually today’s PwC). Nonetheless, his most important asset is surprisingly far from the corporate world. He and his wife Loukia invested in a private art collection as part of a shared lifelong ambition. Their relationship with the Cypriot art world spans over fifty years and includes more than 1,500 works of art. It originated in the 1960s when Michael had just completed his studies in London, a city which exposed him to the wonders of groundbreaking art. Upon his return to Cyprus, the onset of the family collection was the purchase of The Cart, a 1966 painting by Greek artist Demetris Anthis, an impressionistic landscape creation. “I was auditing the Ledra Palace Hotel where I came across the painting and requested to buy it. It was £40 – expensive for that time – and after pleading with the hotel, I was able to pay for it in four £10 instalments,” says Zampelas. This acquisition laid the groundwork for the couple’s shared fascination with incorporating local masterpieces into their home. Today, the net worth of the collection is an estimated €5.6 million.

During his term as Mayor of Nicosia (2002-2006), when the couple’s portfolio was already far-reaching, Zampelas witnessed the limited exposure to the artistic legacy of the island. “I felt that it was an aspect of our culture that was largely overlooked by the authorities and that an individual initiative was needed to elevate Cypriot art to its deserved standing,” explains Zampelas. Therefore, the founding of the Loukia and Michael Zampelas Art Museum in 2012 was also the pinnacle of a lifetime mission to celebrate Cypriot art of all genres. It is the first private foundation to showcase modern and contemporary art in Cyprus.


Cultural Kaleidoscope

Situated above Loukia’s childhood home in Kaimakli, the Loukia and Michael Zampelas Art Museum is a gateway to the often unexplored brilliance and diversity of Cypriot art. It showcases artistic creations that, together, represent a timeline stretching from the late 19th century to the present day. Although a small section is a window to modern Greek and international art, 90% of the collection presents the pioneering artists of Cypriot origin or foreign-born artists with a connection to the island. The collection includes paintings, mixed media, sculpture, installations and mosaics, most of which are fine examples of representational art. Different styles and approaches are evident, from figurative to expressionist to abstract, demonstrating the evolution of modern art.

There is a permanent collection displayed on the museum’s second floor but, in order to showcase all the works held in the storage rooms, the museum runs additional three-month exhibitions. These temporary presentations feature rotating combinations of works with particular themes. One example is Successive Compositions in 2016 which exhibited duets of creations where the Cypriot artists had a parent-child relationship between them. “The exhibition attempted to demonstrate the way a parent-artist impacts his/her offspring and their ability to express themselves as individuals through their own visual language. It was also a great opportunity to demonstrate the collection’s lifespan,” says Marina Christodoulidou, the museum’s curator. There is also a digital archive, available on the museum’s website, with facts and interpretations of the entire collection. 


Long-awaited acclaim

In earlier decades, the couple’s selection of works was geared by their knowledge of renowned Cypriot artists and an eye for art that had been cultivated over time. “As with most private collections, instead of possessing an overarching theme or concept, the collection largely reflects the character, personality and sensitivities of its two founders,” says Marina Christodoulidou. However, in the 1990s, they turned to the guidance of experts to create a reputable shortlist of distinguished works. 1999 saw the birth of ‘Zampelas Art’, an initiative by Mr. and Mrs. Zampelas to which 350 leading Cypriot artists submitted 400 works of art. Then a panel of eminent artists from England, Italy, Cyprus and Greece selected a shortlist of 95 exhibits. They were then promoted in an exclusive publication in 2002 entitled Cypriot Artists of the Third Millennium and were destined to become the backbone of the museum’s permanent collection. “The Zampelas Art project was a milestone in the improvement of our collection but we also revealed the island’s artistic elite for the first time. This helped elevate their work to an extraordinary level on the local and international scene,” says Zampelas.


Signature Greats

Within the museum walls are invaluable artefacts that have revolutionised Cypriot art. Among the highlights of the collection is the 2002 Spring II by Vangelis Rinas. This installation fascinates its audience by incorporating painting, carving work on wood and a bronze sculpture. “Central to the illustration is a girl seated amongst ruins who appears to be daydreaming. She is contemplating a happier time in the past while, in contrast, the ship beside her symbolises the promise of a brighter tomorrow,” explains Marina. In front of the painting is a bronze sculpture of the same girl, presented as sleeping on a bench constructed of wood. It creates a multi-dimensional story of different scenes within one installation.

The majority of the collection demonstrates the island’s most important artists of the twentieth century. Among the post-war greats exhibited is Christoforos Savva, a St. Martin’s graduate of 1948 whose work is among the most imaginative examples of Cypriot modern art. Talented in painting, sculpture, relief work and mosaics, he introduced materials such as metal, wood and cement to the canvas. His experimentation kickstarted a whole movement of similar art on the island. Equally impressive are the innocent depictions of village life by the self-taught artist Michael Kashialos, dating back to the late 1950s. Also featured is the outstanding artwork of Cyprus-based Glyn Hughes, a visionary in playful, abstract compositions. Andreas Makariou from Paphos is arguably the founder of the contemporary Cypriot art movement with his artists’ movement Kathodos that began in the 1980s. His work Urandia 2000: Dali Don Quixote fighting with the Scarecrows is an intricate collage of striking effigies surrounding Don Quixote whilst he waves his lance upon a modified rhinocerous. Black and white gems include the charcoal and pastel creation Untitled II from Stavros Kikas’ Sheaf series. “His compositions have a mystical, dreamy ambience accentuated by the stark monochromatic colour contrasts,” says Marina Christodoulidou.


Outside Influence

There are also notable contributions from abroad such as the magnificent Outside Nafplio seascape by Konstantinos Volanakis. This is a prime example of Greek marine art of the nineteenth century. Of particular prominence are the precious nude female sketches by Pablo Picasso and etchings by Salvador Dali that place the museum on equal footing with the world’s leading cultural hubs. The most recent addition is a 2015 painting entitled Waiting by Cypriot artist Lia Voyiatzi, an imposing and thought-provoking large-scale portrait that evokes the figure’s internal emotions than their natural appearance. “We keep our finger on the pulse for emerging contemporary art that can potentially enhance our collection even further,” says Zampelas. The collection is continually updated through its liaisons with art dealers as well as through donations by successful artists who recognise the museum’s reputation. One such contribution is that of Greek artist Panagiotis Tetsis who granted the museum his expressionistic depiction of the coast of Tselevinia island. It has an estimated value of €250,000.


Community Service

For any visitor, the Zampelas collection is a national heirloom of unrivalled measure. Not only has it sparked the cultural regeneration of Kaimakli and the nearby areas but it has launched a new chapter for the cultural development and history of the island. Many of the collection’s themes explore topics that dominate today’s current affairs. Marlen Karletidou’s 1961 Common Ground centres on man’s relationship with the environment, an issue of particular relevance to today. Maria Kyprianou’s emotive painting of the Pentadaktylos mountain range captures the nostalgia, optimism and longing related to the towering range that guards the Nicosia district. The collection represents a platform for Cypriot art where its investment potential is presented to the spectator. It contributes to a greater appreciation of art as an agent of community work, investment and social integration. The collection is the focal point of educational programmes, temporary exhibitions and musical performances within the museum. “In life, most of our endeavours have an end point – occupations, careers, relationships. But art lives on forever and everyone can take something different from it. Each visitor will influence and direct the collection as it grows,” says Zampelas. As the museum continues to explore new additions, its collection will transcend the island’s generations and expand their cultural horizons.


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