Ioannis Kissonerghis was born in Nicosia in 1889 and died in Johannesburg in 1963.
After his graduation from the Pancyprian Gymnasium, he went to Athens where he studied medicine for tree years. He interrupted his studies to work as a volunteer doctor for the Greek Red Cross in Thessaloniki during the Balkan Wars (1912-13).
After the end of war he gave up Medicine School to study at the Higher School of Fine Arts in Athens. During the period of his studies he was working at the newspapers “Chronos” and “Estia” as a sketcher. He was forced to stop his studies, only after one and a half years, when he became ill with tuberculosis.
He returned to Cyprus where he started working as an Art teacher at Pancyprian Gymnasium. The deficiency of a diploma forced him to resign from the Pancyprian Gymnasium, but he continued to teach at the English School in Nicosia from 1936 till 1952.
As an art teacher he introduced to his students the free drawing and painting from nature. He also brought his students in contact with the work of significant painters. He contributed to the evolution of Cypriot contemporary art as a painter and teacher.
Ioanni Kissonerghis is considered as one of the fathers of Cypriot contemporary art.
Besides his original painting skills he used to copy paintings which were fashionable at that time in order to please the demands of urban class. He also used to paint icons. He has painted part of the central dome and semi-dome of the Holy of Holies of Phaneromeni church in Nicosia, and the iconostasis of the Ayia Triada church in Durban, in a realistic manner with specific influences from Renaissance.
He was the artist with the most participations at the annual Cypriot Artistic Exhibition, which was consecrated by the colonial government in 1931. Kisonergis took part in the exhibitions of 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938 and 1947.
His first one-man exhibition was presented in 1952 at Pnevmatiki Adelfotis in Nicosia. The Greek Pnevmatikos Group in Cyprus organized his second one-man exhibition in 1953 at Nicosia Club.
Bibliography: I. Kissonergis, Bank of Cyprus Cultural Centre publications, Nicosia 1993; Eleni Nikita, Cypriot Artists, First Generation, Cultural Centre of Popular Bank, Nicosia 2002; Christos Savvidis-Trichas, Cypriot Artists, Chr. Andreou publications, Nicosia 1982-83; Eleni Papademetriou, State Gallery of Contemporary Cypriot Art, Ministry of Education and Culture, Cultural Services, Nicosia 1998.