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Adamantios

Diamantis

Diamantis went to the Pancyprian High School (1912-1918) and later, completed a year at English School in Nicosia. His higher education began at St. Martin’s School of Art in London (1920-1921) where he studied Fine Art, followed by three years (1921-1923) at the Royal College of Art. Returning to Cyprus after his studies, Diamantis worked as an art teacher at the Faneromeni Girls’ School for one year before going back to London to enroll in various free courses (1924-1926). By 1926, he was back in Cyprus where he was appointed a professor at the Pancyprian High School he had attended, teaching art until 1962. The people of Cyprus, not to mention the land itself, proved to be thematic source material which he tried to interpret in his work rather than merely transcribe.

His paintings concentrate on the typical, universal aspects of life but also the monumental. He sought out themes that tapped into the roots and living traditions of Cypriot Hellenism, trying to promote age-old virtues, values and the ethos of its people. The work he produced can be divided into three periods: His first period begins after the end of his studies and lasts until the end of the 1930s. Here, his projects flow through the teachings of impressionism and post-impressionism; the work of Cezanne is particularly influential. Subject matter that dominates are landscapes and still life; he also became interested in portraiture. The second period, ending at the beginning of the 1960s, sees the artist shift into the interpretation of the human form and when he begins a series entitled “Struggles”.

Diamantis begins his second period by becoming immersed in themes and scenes from everyday urban and rural life. Essentially a broader reference to genre painting, Diamantis focuses his interest on the typical and universal facets as opposed to the individual experience. He creates a series of works on the male-dominated world of cafes and pieces on the life of farmers – in which the female presence is especially important, divided into two ideals, that of the country woman and mother. Many artworks from this period are characterized by their overall design: the selective use of deductive and expressionistic models, large surface areas covered in colour, the pliability of volume and shapes and the integration of elements of the Byzantine vocabulary.

Finally, the third period, beginning after 1963, sees the artist engage and express the recent events (at the time) of his home country, creating projects leading into an internal, psychological world. The latter is fundamentally demonstrated in his series “Struggles” as well as other efforts generated at the same time. These works produced in this clime cling to expressionist models by using contrasting colours, shapes that have been distorted or deformed and colour symbolism. Between the years 1967 and 1972, Diamantis presented his monumental work ‘The People of Cyprus’. The oblong shape and large dimensions of the piece (17,5m x 1,75m), not to mention the synthetic placement of the researched human characters, classify the work as a type of frieze. It is a grandiose composition, consisting of 67 separate characters. Many of the sixty-plus subjects were based on drawings he completed on location in several villages in Cyprus that he visited frequently from 1931 to 1959. Only six character forms were of the artist’s own creation. As for the background, Diamantis used older designs (twenty-five in number) created from different parts of the island to serve as the landscape.

Cypriot, 1900-1994

Adamantios Diamantis, Village Woman, 1942, Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm

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