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Deep are Our Roots, 1979



Photos Hadjisoteriou (1919-2004)
Deep are Our Roots, 1979
Oil on plywood
AGLC 478 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Photos Hadjisoteriou captured a view of a village on the Cypriot plain. The painting ‘opens’ with part of a fence and the thorny, succulent leaves of a prickly pear, a typical plant of lowland Cyprus. An uphill road leads us to the interior of the village with its mud-brick houses, white-washed walls and, up ahead, the church. Even though the painting is marked by schematisation and simplification, the painter depicted certain supplementary themes, such as doves’ nests, two stones used to steady a large jar, two birds sitting on the fence in the foreground and laundry hanging out to dry – all details which embellish the content and reinforce the character and charm of the composition. Human presence, albeit especially discreet, plays an essential role, lending life to the built environment.

Hadjisoteriou’s drawing is simple and elegant. Its thin black lines demarcate the areas which are covered by pure colours, free of tonal gradations. These elements evoke popular painting on glass, which flourished in Cyprus during the first decades of the 20th century. The title of the work, Deep are Our Roots, reveals the artist’s intentions. The portrayal of a traditional village – with its emblematic architecture, shaped throughout the centuries with wisdom in order to best serve the needs of an agrarian society, the values and ways of life that were disappearing into the mists of time – refers us to the ancient origins of the Cypriot people.

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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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