Painting and Place-Making in A. Diamantis ‘The Planters’

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Christina Lambrou, Kingston University, UK


    Positioned in the framework of rethinking modernisms with reference to the impact that post-colonial scholarship has had on the study of images, this paper proposes a critical re-examination of the painting ‘The Planters’ (1932 – 1933) by the Cypriot painter Adamantios Diamantis (1900 ‘ 1994) vis-a-vis the formation of social, political and cultural identities in colonial and postcolonial Cyprus. Approaching painting as cultural medium and as process, the paper adopts WJT Mitchell’s lens whereby interest is directed not just to what a painting is or means but to what it does . The paper addresses the theme of a ‘return to the soil’, in relation to the local context of growing anti-colonialism and within the wider European framework of rising nationalisms in the 1930s. Created in this politically charged period, the painting shows three female figures as they plant seeds in the soil of a vast rural landscape, announcing a desired return to a pre-modern Arcadian land. Content and framework are examined in parallel as the painting is often accompanied by the story of the artist who travelled from the city to the mountain village of Ayios Theodoros, and came ‘face to face with a world whose existence he had not previously suspected’ . The notion of ‘discovery’ is approached as a narrative device comparable to what James Clifford described as ‘ethnographic allegory’, while the artist became not only the painter of figures in a landscape, but a figure in the landscape himself. Thinking of the work as an embodied landscape, and applying Marc Auge’s definition of anthropological place, the paper suggests that pictorial space might be understood as a place where often conflicting ideas about belonging and locality are performed and negotiated.