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Portrait of a Girl, 1967



Victor Ioannides (1903-1984)
Portrait of a Girl, 1967
Oil on plywood
AGLC 483 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Victor Ioannides evinced his talent for portraiture while still at school. With quick and concise sketches, he managed to capture and put down on paper the human character. This skill led him – while still a student at the Athens School of Fine Arts – to become a cartoonist. Between 1923 and 1924 he worked drawing cartoons for Ελεύθερος Τύπος [Free press newspaper] and from 1925 to 1929, when he finished his studies, for Ελληνική [Greek newspaper]. In fact, together with Fokion Demetriadis, Antonis Protopatsis and Nikos Kastanakis, he founded the Athenian Newspapers’ Cartoonist Association. In Cyprus, he served as the editor-in-chief and cartoonist of the satirical newspaper Το Γέλιο [Laughter] (1936-1937).

Ioannides’ ability to observe, explore and interpret the human character also led him early on to pursue portraiture. Except for cases of commissioned works, he found his subjects mainly in his immediate milieu. Indeed, he had a penchant for depicting young girls. As in his landscapes and scenes from everyday life, so in his portraits did Ioannides soon forsake the dark colours and solemn air of academic portraitists and his teachers at the Athens School of Fine Arts, moving on to a fresh painting style with Impressionist influences.

Portrait of a Girl in the A. G. Leventis Gallery Collection depicts a young English girl, a neighbour of the artist. The character of the young girl is rendered with immediacy and acuity, but also with an economy of line – all virtues which he developed as a cartoonist. The artist built up the portrait with two contrasting colours. Leaving the background and the girl’s torso indistinct, he focused on the face, which he accentuated with skilful lighting. The strong contrast between light and shadow, which splits the face in two, lends drama and intensifies the sadness emanating from the young girl’s eyes. With this chiaroscuro, Ioannides went beyond the result of a natural phenomenon to a fundamental principle, that of the eternal coexistence of the positive and the negative.

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About the artist

He studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts, under Georgios Iacovides, Spyridon Vikatos and Nikolaos Lytras. During his studies, he worked as cartoonist in the newspapers Eleftheros Typos (Free Press) (1923-1924) and Elliniki (Greek) (1925-1929) and as an illustrator for the Great Greek Encyclopedia. In 1930 he returned to Limassol and in 1936 he founded with G. Fasoulioti the first workshop in Cyprus that delt with design and advertising, called Atelie. The pair also issued the satirical newspaper To Gelio (The Laughter) (1936-1937). Additionally, he worked as an art teacher in secondary education (1931-1933, 1942-1965). Thematically, his art focuses on landscape, and scenes from everyday life featuring the rural and urban communities. He also painted portraits, still lifes and nudes. He was concerned with capturing visual reality, and depicted his themes with an impressionistic and realistic approach. His personal style is characterized by his skilled draftsmanship and often simplified, free approach to his subjects, perhaps due to his work as a cartoonist.   He was particularly interested in technique and spent a great deal of time researching and testing materials, particularly tempera and varnish, in order to achieve the ideal translucency and brightness of colour.

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