Interview with Georgia Michaelides Saad, Painter


Interviewer: Vassiliki V. Pappa

Georgia Michaelides Saad was born in Limassol, from 1968-1996 she lives in South Africa and in 1996 she was repatriated and lives permanently in Cyprus. She studied Fine Arts (Honors) at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. At the same university she continues her postgraduate studies where she receives the Higher Diploma in Education while MA Fine Arts (painting) (1990-1996) at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. In 1994 she was awarded the Robin Aldwinckle Merit Bursary by the University of South Africa. She is currently studying in the Postgraduate Program in Art History and Theory of the Department of Fine Arts of the School of Fine and Applied Arts of the Cyprus University of Technology.

Her works graces the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Municipal Gallery of Nicosia, the Municipal Gallery of Limassol in Cyprus, the National Museum of Art in Beijing, China. (The Art Acquisition Department of the National Art Museum of China bought Iris Bostrensis' work Silk Road with which she participated in the Beijing Biennale "The Silk Road and World's Civilizations: The 7TH Beijing International Art Biennale, China 2017" for the National Art Museum of China).

Her works are in private collections in South Africa, Cyprus, England, France, Ireland, Germany, Russia and Canada.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: Georgia, which are the memories that you carry from your childhood?

Georgia Michaelides Saad: As concerns painting I always loved it. I still remember the excitement I felt as a child when I looked at the colours in a picture that I saw. I felt that there was something magical about them. Luckily I still feel that kind of magic with colours.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: How did you decide to keep busy with painting? Which deep need of yours led you to this decision?

Georgia Michaelides Saad: It was not a conscious need actually. I became a painter by "accident". Of course, I do nοt believe that there is such a thing as an accident. Anyway, painting was not a "safe" choice for a career, in Cyprus, at the time when I was growing up, so I decided that I was going to study architecture. Then, my parents and I, emigrated to South Africa and I applied for architecture at the university. I did not have the right grades in Mathematics to be accepted and I was going to rewrite the examination and try again the following year. But I decided that I was going to enroll for the Fine Arts degree in the meantime. Once I was in the art class, that was it. I knew where I wanted to be.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: How did your parents react to your choice? When you started, did you have any big plans?

Georgia Michaelides Saad: I am an only child so I have always done what I wanted really. My parents never tried to impose their expectations on me and they accepted whatever I decided to do. I did not have any big plans when I started, I am not a person who makes plans. I just take the opportunities that life presents me with.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: We consider an artist successful according to the sales that he/she will have. So is this reality or is just art condemned to be addressed to few people?

Georgia Michailides Saad: The success of the sales has nothing to do with the quality of the work of the artist. It is simply financial success. There are great artists who are not successful in this sense. It is difficult for art to address a lot of people because the public has to be aware of what happens in art at the moment. Not many people are really interested. Unfortunately art is not a priority for the general public.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: I would like you to tell me three works of arts of foreign painters that you would like to have made.

Georgia Michaelides Saad: Joy of Life, by Henri Matisse, Self Portrait (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh, Black Iris by Georgia O' Keeffe. Of course, there are so many others.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: Have you ever thought how your life would be when all these things that you have today such as glory, success, acceptance and love by the public die down one day? Does such a possibility frighten you?

Georgia Michaelides Saad: I certainly do nοt think that I have the glory or any of the things connected to it. So, no, the possibility of the glory etc. dying down does not frighten me, I am not a star. I do know that there are people who love my work, and people who my work communicates with, and that gives me a lot of joy. The reality, however, is that it is the paintings that give me the strength to continue. I believe in them. Painting is a lonely activity, in the sense that one paints in isolation, and, also, the painter does not know how many people have seen the work, it is not like an actor, for example, who gets the applause at the end. So, most of the time, it is me and the paintings and the love that I have for them that keeps me going.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: In our days, a lot of people try to claim a part of fame. Social media contribute a lot towards this direction. Do you believe that fame and glory is the main food, beyond others, of the contemporary artists?

Georgia Michaelides Saad: I cannot speak for other artists but in my case, it is certainly not the fame and glory that give me nourishment. I find social media a very useful tool in terms of giving exposure to my work. The way I see it, the more people who see the work the better. Not for the fame and glory part but for the communication part. I believe that one of the main functions of art is to communicate.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: What is your opinion for all these things that people globally experience these last years? At first a lot of opinions were expressed regarding the causes of the creation of the global crisis and all claim that this whole hardship may end positively. What do you believe for the public issues and how do you react to whatever is happening around us?

Georgia Michaelides Saad: I feel very sad about all the suffering people are experiencing these last few years. I think this hardship will only end positively if we learn the lessons that we are being taught. And we are being taught the hard way. I can only hope that we will learn to love and respect each other, the planet, all the other living beings. This is what is important. My reaction to this, other than keeping safe, is to try and become a better human being.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: I would like you to tell me, where do you derive your strength from at your difficult moments?

Georgia Michaelides Saad: I derive strength primarily from God, myself, my paintings, my family and friends, and my cats.

Vassiliki V. Pappa: Georgia, concluding, what do you dream about your future?

Georgia Michaelides Saad: I live for the present Vassiliki, so I do not really dream about my future, but I guess, in general terms, I would like to be healthy, happy and always inspired by my paintings so that I can continue to paint.    

   Translation in English: Aliki Naka