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Summer, 1959



Photos Hadjisoteriou (1919-2004)
Summer, 1959
Oil on plywood
AGLC 475 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Photos Hadjisoteriou was self-taught. As the scion of a wealthy Famagusta family, he was able to travel and visit museums and galleries throughout Europe. He began painting at an early age, holding his first solo exhibition in 1941, at the age of 22. Obviously, his role model was his fellow citizen and painter George Pol. Georghiou. However, Hadjisoteriou did not go beyond rendering external reality. With its narrative style, its simple forms and its rich, bright and solid colours, his painting features elements from the field of illustration.

Summer was painted in 1959, the year in which the Zurich and London Agreements were signed, leading Cyprus to an independence guaranteed by Britain, Greece and Turkey. A new historical period was beginning for Cyprus. The two communities – the Greek and the Turkish – were now free, according to the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, to manage for themselves issues of religion, education and culture which concerned them and to use, besides the state symbols, their own national ones. The Greek flag waving on the small balcony of the typical village house places us in time, while also suggesting the new climate which prevailed following the island’s independence.

The composition portrays the courtyard of a traditional farmhouse and a woman sweeping her earth-covered yard. To the side, a bed reveals a habit people in villages have of sleeping outside on hot, starry summer nights. Through the half-open door of the house we can see the figure of a second woman dressed in black. The self-taught Hadjisoteriou adopted a folklore-like artistic style, which is marked by simplification, schematisation, clear outlines and bold, clear colours applied to large areas. He also used a peculiar mixed perspective, which contains elements of a bird’s-eye view.

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About the artist

He studied economics at the Commercial School of Athens and the American University in Beirut. He became a dedicated, self-taught painter while still a youth. He was also a writer. He was the brother of Xanthos Hadjisoteriou. His subject matter includes mostly genre scenes of traditional rural life in Cyprus. In his works he usually combined the built environment with the human form or with scenes from daily life in the village. His painting is characterised by folkloric elements, schematisation, simplification, bold, clear colours and an emphasis on quaint details. He showed his works in solo exhibitions in Cyprus (1941, 1947, 1953, 1957, 1962, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1991) and in Athens in 1978. He also took part in many group shows in Cyprus and abroad.

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