Celebrated Cypriot artist and founder of the Cyprus College of Art Stass Paraskos died Tuesday 4 March at the age of 81.
Stass studied painting at Leeds College of Art between 1956 and 1958 and went on to teach at the College before establishing the first and only specialist Art College in Cyprus.
Stass was born in Larnaca, Cyprus in 1933 and moved to England in 1953, working as a cook in his brother's restaurant in Leeds. The restaurant was a popular haunt for local art students who encouraged Paraskos to enrol for classes at Leeds College of Art. Paraskos was spotted by the College's inspirational Head of Fine Art, Harry Thubron, who made certain that despite not having the usual entry qualifications, Paraskos was accepted. On completing his course Stass moved to St Ives in 1959 with fellow artists and shared a studio space with Wilhelmina Barns-Graham CBE, until he returned to Leeds in 1961 and began teaching at Leeds College of Art. He went on to teach for over 30 years in Higher Education, lecturing in Leeds and later at Leicester College.
Stass organised annual summer trips to Cyprus for students from Leeds and other British Art Schools. These regular trips in grew in popularity and Stass founded the Cyprus College of Art in 1969. Throughout teaching he continued to paint, his work inspired by the art of primitive cultures. Several of his works are in public collections in Britain, including the Tate Gallery, London, Leeds City Art Gallery, Arts Council Collection and University of Leeds, as well as in Cyprus, USA, Canada and Denmark.
The historian Norbert Lynton and author who wrote a book about Stass Paraskos says: "Paraskos was a sophisticated artist who studied in the West and has roots in the East. In art, he managed to successfully combine the artistic traditions of Western modernism with the traditions of Byzantine Orthodoxy."
Stass will be sorely missed by all those who knew him, including his students and peers at Leeds College of Art.