Journeys and travel have always inspired artists. Art also changes the way we view and perceive places. Journeys are really about having a certain mindset which considers the destination to be just as important as what one absorbs on the way. And one must not forget that journeying new places implies merging the unknown and its challenges. This is what has occurred with Rinos Stefani’s art, which has been inspired and infused by different continents and specific places he has journeyed to.

In London, where he studied, he unwrapped the intricacies of galleries, museums, the Old Masters, as well as modernist and contemporary art. While there, he also discovered the multicultural society, observing its depths and its shallowness, and absorbing how other people lived – their music, history, food. From London, he traveled to other European cities. Every new experience opened up a new surface and depth, accepting and valuing diversity, subtle differences and the unknown.

In Berlin, he was surprised by encountering the music of the Andes by the Latinos. This later took him to the other side of the Atlantic, to South America: from cosmopolitan Bogotá to Medellin, from San Agustin in the Andes to Cartagena and Santa Marta in the Caribbean. From there, he journeyed south to the Amazon River, where Colombia meets Peru and Brazil, catching piranhas while watching trunks float down the river. An adventure and a challenge by the nameless.

Spain and France also left an imprint – Catalonia and its Romanesque art, the Pyrenees, the Basque countryside, the Paleolithic paintings in the caves of Isturitz and Oxocelaya in Baja Navarra between Lascaux and Altamira, all have imbued his work. Then, Stefani arrived in China. He walked on the Great Wall and the Yellow Mountains in Hefei, which made a dent on him.

His eagerness to venture into new places took him also to the United States: firstly, to Florida, with its influx of Caribbean and South American influences, diversity and fast-paced life and food. He then encountered the Everglades where crocodiles abound, while a fierce storm almost left him stranded and lost and experiencing profound fear. He traveled through cities and towns making friends with the down to earth people. He arrived in Ohio, where he was amazed that communities like the Amish can live within a consumer society without electricity, cars or television. He saw glaciers from thousands of years ago, on an island in Lake Erie, with Canada only nine miles away. A professor took him on a walk through an old cemetery for the mentally ill, where patients years ago were buried with only a number.

This leads us back to his home country, Cyprus. Ancient settlements – some nine thousand years old –, the Troodos Mountain, Byzantine churches with outstanding mural paintings, wines, olives, carob trees… Even here, Stefani continues to journey outside and inside his mind, always making certain that his art constantly renews itself.

Caroline Frances Vargas
Free-lance writer, 2008, Ohio USA