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The Woman with the Domes



Xanthos Hadjisoteriou (1920-2002)
The Woman with the Domes
Oil on plywood
AGLC 479 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Xanthos Hadjisoteriou drew inspiration from the scenery of Cypriot villages and the daily life of their people. The historic events he experienced during his lifetime and the life of a refugee to which he was reduced following the occupation of his birthplace, Famagusta, by the Turkish army also influenced his choice of subject matter.

In this, as in most of his paintings, the woman is the focal point of the composition. Around her, forming an oval shape, the painter has positioned church domes and six traditional earthenware pots, the symbols of Cyprus’ spiritual and material civilisation: the church – symbolising the deep religiosity of the Cypriots and a source of many of their moral values; and the pots – symbolising the island’s age-long cultural tradition in pottery and the vital relationship of the Cypriot people with the earth.

The female form is conveyed in a Mannerist pose typical of the artist’s painting style, with the head bent, almost touching her left shoulder. The woman, with the traditional headband wrapped around her head, is painted like a Madonna. The artist borrowed certain elements from Byzantine art, reworking and incorporating them with abstraction and austerity. The oval face, the arched eyebrows, the long, thin nose, the pursed lips and the big eyes are all features of Byzantine typology, as are the schematic lighting of the face and the way the colours are combined on the surface. Xanthos Hadjisoteriou, similarly to his brother Photos, was influenced by the painting of George Pol. Georghiou, also a native of Famagusta. Georghiou’s references to the Virgin when painting Cypriot peasant women are unmistakable in this particular work by Hadjisoteriou in the A. G. Leventis Gallery Collection. In conveying his subject, Hadjisoteriou used biomorphic, circular shapes, lending the composition a melodic rhythm.

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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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