Every individual has a story; each story becomes a part of a generation of stories; and these in turn become a part of history and culture. The creation, telling and recording of these personal histories is a fundamental part of any culture; storytelling has brought people together for centuries and is almost a birthright, and a legacy. From the oral traditions of African tribes to the westernised televised storytelling of Jack-a-nory, the sharing of stories ensures that lives and experiences, myths and legends, imagination and fantasy stay very much alive.
Costantia tells the stories of her island; the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, an amber island. These are the stories in the faces of people she knows now; family and friends she has always known; and people she has never even met. It is because of this, her work is always focused on people. Each and every face and body is as unique as the story behind it. Her work seeks to capture the volumes written in the lines and textures, expressions and movement to produce an amber time-capsuled, individualised, yet almost universal history of human experience, thus thrusting both past and present into the future.
Costantia Manoli is a fine artist who specialises in portraiture and nude painting. She discovered she had a range of artistic abilities at an early age – art, writing and music – and has incorporated these into both pastimes and professions.
After studying English Literature in America and England – where she was published as a poet in various journals – Costantia went into the teaching profession and teaches English language, literature and drama at a private school in Larnaca. Painting in her spare time, Costantia’s earlier portraits were primarily in acrylic paint on foamcore or canvas and mainly featured family and friends, painted in a relatively realistic and always distinctive style.
Parallel to her teaching, she mentored students from both sides of the island in bi-communal workshops in America where her artistic talents were put to use in a range of creative activities aimed at bridging the gap between the two communities. It was during this time that her love affair with the diversity of people and their stories truly began, and her portraits began to take on a more mature approach, capturing and expressing the essence of the individual and their experiences in every brushstroke.
During a year of teaching at the prestigious Stanford University of California in 2007/8, Costantia honed her painting skills under the wing of the Bay Area painter Kevin Bean and explored different mediums and styles which led her to oils and the use of unconventional colour to twist the semi-realism of her previous portraits.