Spark up a conversation about street art in Cyprus and the name Paparazzi will almost instantly crop up!
Born in Georgia, Achilleas Michaelides is a painter, graffiti writer, muralist and street artist now based in Cyprus, hailed as the most recognised exponent of street art on the island. A real pioneer in the country, he started off in Limassol with his expression murals back in 2002 which really rocked the boat at the time, given that no one was really familiar with graffiti as an actual art form (but more, just slogans on the walls), with street art largely regarded as vandalism.
Making people stopped in their tracks, Paparazzi was intent on doing something really different, as he breathed new life into cities around the island, giving new meaning to empty walls, or parts of town that had remained derelict, inaccessible or lifeless. Bridging street art with fine art, through constant experimentation, synthesis of styles, heaps of imagination and a unique approach, Paparazzi is now widely considered a highly accomplished artist fascinated by socially subversive experimentation.
Leading the evolution of street art on the island, Paparazzi has helped organise and has participated in dozens of events, while also organising and curating the Ayia Napa Street Art Festival. To date, Paparazzi has enjoyed 5 personal and 23 group exhibitions, while he currently keeps busy in his Paparazzi ART Studio in Larnaca.
Read on as My Cyprus Insider asks him 10 questions about his life on the island…
1. Three things you most love about Cyprus…
The sea, sun and the rhythm of life.
2. Beloved spot on the island?
I really love the small beach next to Ayia Napa named Ammos tou Kambouri, because it’s very peaceful, no loud music and just few people around, so I can sketch or just chill with friends and family.
3. Favourite town?
At the moment it’s Larnaca. I love the old town, because one can still feel the authenticity of the country, it has an amazing little port where you can enjoy your coffee, and just sit and think. I love to work at my studio in the old town the most. I’m surrounded by other artists, galleries and art schools – it has this great spirit of Paris in the 1920’s!
4. Best memory?
When I first met my daughter! It’s the best project of my life.
5. Perfect weekend break?
Waking up early in the morning, having my breakfast, sitting by the pool for a bit, then maybe up to the Troodos Mountains; I love Platres. Then off to greet the sunset at Cape Greco and end my day at home watching a nice movie with my little family.
6. A day at the beach or mountains?
I love both. You make it hard to choose. My favourite spot for a day by the sea is Ayia Napa: Ammos tou Kambouri or Paradisos beach, depends on my mood. And if I go to Troodos, it would be Platres for a walk and then to eat fish, they have amazing taverns there.
7. Favourite place to eat?
Hard one, there are so many great places to mention. If it’s Ayia Napa – definitely Moo Moo tavern, because of the great atmosphere, service and amazing chicken fajitas and fish soup. Then there’s Potamos in Liopetri – one little fish tavern where they serve the best fish meze ever. And in Limassol I love Kalimera India – crazy food and the huge smile of Mr Vankatesh!
8. Favourite place for a drink?
Ammos beach bar in Larnaca- best mojitos, sea view and airplanes flying just above you.
9. If you were to recommend a visitor tries just one local dish, what would it be?
I’d say, find a good place for fish meze; my experience says that foreigners love it.
10. Best season in Cyprus?
Spring! Because it’s not too hot, and everything is green around.