HOW IS IDENTITY EXPLORED + EXPRESSED THROUGH OUR FEATURED ARTISTS WORK

Iryna

Cyprus has brought simplicity and more shades into my paintings. The island inspires me to discover the deepest layers behind what I see.

Just like with “The origin and destruction” diptych dedicated to the genesis of Cyprus.

Cyprus was born from the fire of lava eruption 1,8 million years ago, and it still struggles with fire during the hot season. Nevertheless, the prosperity of Cyprus was based on its origin and richness of minerals. This kind of contraversions and tension points is an area of study for me - vulnerability at the moment. 

The island is very rich with natural colors and shades and their combinations. Stones and geosites in Troodos mountains, green fields in winter and withered hills during the rest part of the year, flowers of any color and form from across the globe, and haze in the sky. All of this creates material for my paintings as I use the language of color to tell the stories of change in abstract form in my paintings.

Diamanto

Growing up in Cyprus didn’t give me many options regarding my artistic progress. From a young age, I accepted what was given to me as knowledge, training, and experience, and I embodied all that information assuming they were correct. The moment I moved abroad, a whole new world opened up for me - I met people with different perspectives and alternative approaches to art-making, always thirsty for innovation and eager to share. My decision to leave Cyprus and get to know what else is out there made me realize that everything I know is only a tiny percentage of what actually exists (or could exist). The most important realization, however, was how important it is to keep questioning what I know, what I do, and what I am. 

 

Putting myself in relation to others, made me realize a crucial issue that describes my nation; the identity crisis. This crisis became a motive for me to redefine my personal identity, and I found my identity away from countries, nations, and races. I found my identity - and myself - in art.

Emily

My work is grounded in research-based art practice. Whether I’m exploring technique, material, or theory, it is important for me to be aware of the historical context surrounding my work. This is something that I’ve come to value from growing up in a family rich with stories about our culture and history. Of course, these stories are often punctuated by the historical contextualization of the time.

Before my Pappou passed, he spent 10 years writing the events of his life down so that future generations would remember him, but more importantly, remember where we come from. As I was writing my book, Amazing Circular Weaving, I thought of him often. Especially because I wrote the book in his former office. I even sat in the same spot that he sat while writing his own life story.

Evdokia

The Cypriot heritage consists of beautiful objects which are mostly used within domestic spaces. The artist, due to her interest in those objects, as well as her research and concept, aims to analyze and relate these objects to her art practice. Through her work, the artist aims to show the link between the domestic space and the wider society.  She is interested in showing how the dynamics of these two spaces could co-exist and be exchanged. In this way, she aims to encourage the viewer to be engaged through a different vision of the everyday environment and objects.

Kiara

Being born in the island of Cyprus as well as having Italian roots, I have been blessed to be raised bicultural as well as bilingual. It is a gift to embrace both cultures together as well as their rich heritage and the curiosity to learn more about them as well as to appreciate them.  Heritage is part of who we are and we carry it along with us.


I believe that wherever I go and no matter what I do, I will always carry within me my Cypriot heritage.  Growing up in Cyprus with its bright daylights where the sun shines for most of the year, it is hard to say that this alone does not have an impact on my art.  My deep love for the Mediterranean Sea, the island’s bright colors and sun will always influence as well as be part of my art in one way or another. My seascape sceneries together with my artworks of landscapes are mainly inspired by elements of my Cypriot heritage and nature which may not always be concrete rather they may include emotions and the energy connected to my Cypriot heritage. My frequent hiking escapes in Cypriot nature, visiting and learning about small traditional villages and their history, and tasting local delicacies are a few of the examples of what is keeping my heritage alive inside me, reminding me of whom I am while trying to convey it on my canvas with colorful brushstrokes.

Konstantina

I need more time to reflect on this…it is a hard one as I never really thought about it!

Maria

I was born in South Africa to Greek Cypriot parents and like many children of immigrants, I felt neither fully South African nor totally Cypriot. My work is not really influenced by either country, I tend to paint exactly what I see in front of me or put images together to create completely different worlds. I often paint surreal themes in a realistic way, for example, wild animals in domestic settings. Maybe this is because I never felt fully immersed in any particular culture or country, so I use my art to create my own spaces.

Melissa

I am lucky enough to have multiple heritages, each one is influenced by the other. All of them form my whole identity. For me, my Cypriot part is delicious food made with love, jasmine perfumes, heat, stray cats, and crystal water of the sea. All of them make my Cypriot memories, which I wanted to reflect on in my work.

Nuné

As an Armenian Cypriot, my identity always fluctuated between the two but I’ve always felt most at home in Cyprus.


The influence the country has had on my work is seen in the aesthetics and ways of storytelling.  The way I try to capture how intimacy happens on the street between two strangers at the market, between two kids chasing each other, and even between the grandparents gathered at the kafenion.


How the country’s warmth is reflected upon its people, the welcoming smiles that greet you with ease.


My storytelling has the same warmth, the same intimacy, and closeness that I have discovered on this island.

Phemia

As a Greek-speaking Cypriot living in the South, I have found joy in reading our history and observing the similarities between Greek-speaking Cypriots, Turkish-speaking Cypriots, and the minorities of Armenians and Maronites that share Cypriot soil. The similarities are what previously connected us and what can continue to connect us in the present and future. Naturally, my Cypriot heritage is the impulse behind my desire to find out what makes us all feel Cypriot and how differently or similarly we may experience our Cypriotness. Being raised Cypriot for me has meant to grow up deeply connected and appreciative of family and life at home; since being at university in the UK I have grown to be even more attached to my Cypriot heritage no matter how physically distanced I am from my land and my people, leading to an even greater appreciation for activities and occasions I previously took for granted when I lived here all year round. My pride in my Cypriot heritage continues to grow and motivate my work; it grows in conversations had with other likeminded Cypriots, in conversations about peace and unity, and especially in conversations had in the Cypriot dialect.

Renay

Being from two places has allowed space for me to perceive certain traits, attached to gender, from an outside perspective. I then learned different expectations of my ‘womanhood’. That aside, I also didn’t fully understand my Cypriot heritage as a kid growing up in the UK. I didn’t realize it was different to go to a greek orthodox Saturday school or that not everyone has a baptism name and a name name. Tension could be felt between my Cypriot side and my English side, a lot of cultural ridicule - from both sides. This further pushed me into a space of ‘perceiving’ my family and not having a grounded sense of identity. Coming from a Cypriot diaspora, there is a sense of longing to want to stay more connected to my heritage and a subtle fear that it could be washed away. This longing has pushed me to journal more and in the process of deciphering what I identify with, art is made.

As for my practice, I have always based my work on my diary/sketchbook and my inner emotional developments. I enjoy illustrating (or need to) my process of detangling myself from ideas of gender and culture. At the same time, I enjoy documenting the joy I find in making peace with my gender and cultural heritage. The works I produce as a result of that documentation, reflect that. If I were not from Cyprus, my work would show something else, the story would be different.

Sarah:

Having a dual background, I am both influenced by Palestinian and Cypriot cultures. Both countries are still struggling
with freedom of speech and expression. Being born in Cyprus, with Palestinian background meant many things. It meant
sometimes dealing with racism while I felt (and feel) that Cyprus is my home, and also people labeled me with what they believe
I am, without actually getting to know me. It would be hard, and almost impossible to say that who I am is not influenced by my art... but also that art influences who I currently am. In this film, the character created, shows a body that wants to break boundaries, and show her individuality and freedom of expression. Both my personal experiences and in the larger picture, both countries that are struggling to express their identities, have greatly influenced me to have a more “revolutionary” view.  People cannot be labeled and put in the same box, and more specifically, one single individual does not remain unchanged through time and should not be labeled as a single fixation either.


Stella:

Through my work, I explore the notion of identity which naturally includes my nationality and cultural heritage. For the
exhibited work I derived inspiration from traditional Cypriot needle lace “Pipilla”, a technique that my grandmother used a lot. I
chose to focus on “Hime Lolitas” as a starting source of inspiration, a subgenre of Lolitas that that is otherwise known as “The Princess Look”. They show their own definition of a feminine identity through delicate, Victorian lace details, ruffles, bows and accessories.  I went on to create a modern interpretation of femininity based on something old.  Lace craftsmanship used to be a very feminine trait in Cyprus during my grandmother’s youth. I drew Pipilla lace patterns in a more graphic style and cut out these patterns using laser cut. I used those fabrics for corset-style bodysuits, crop tops, and biker shorts I designed to go under translucent skirts or dresses.