Friday, 26 August 2011

Yannis Moralis

An exhibition of Yannis Moralis' work at the National Gallery. A retrospective and a celebration.

The early work:

Two friends, 1946. This could also have been called  'two sculptors'  as it is a painting of the sculptor Natalia Mella, whose work I love, and another sculptor, but I cannot remember who that is.

 The painter with Nikos Nikolaou, 1937

"I did not want to make imitations. Nor did I close my eyes. I let influences enter, but I did not want to imitate anyone. For instance in my self-portrait with Nikolaou, of 1937, you can see the influence of the great Italian Renaissance artists I saw in the museums in Rome. Similarly when I painted my self-portrait of 1938, in Paris, I later came to realize that it is 'related' to a self-portrait by Delacroix"

Self-portrait, 1938

and a photograph of the artist

Pregnant Woman, 1948

The table, 1947

Portrait of Ioanna Lourou, 1940

Figure, 1951

A.G. Prokopiou in 'Art Review Notes' wrote: "This large composition unfolds in the two dimensions of the flat surface of the canvas and could be considered as a preliminary study for the wall decoration of a cenotaph. It has a few weaknesses: the front arm is slimmer, and the fact that it is parallel to the other arm causes a certain monotony. The back line of the background cuts through the surface of the second blue plane. The blue area may be bitter. Yet, these reservations do not compromise the merit of Moralis' work. His drawing is fine as always, and the way his figures are arranged in space, testifies to the artist's fine taste. His constant fluctuation between realism and modern art is often justified by his restless talent".

Figure, 1951

a photograph of the artist

And now to the middle period

and the funerary compositions, which touch me to the core.

Funerary Composition, 1958

"One of my first funerary compositions came to me in a dream"

I find them incredibly moving but they are also good examples of the transition Moralis made from figurative to abstract painting.

Funerary Composition I, 1958-62

Funerary Composition II, 1958-62

Funerary Composition III, 1958-63

Funerary Composition IV

Funerary Composition V, 1963

Funerary Composition VI, 1963
"Love and death go together. Both have played an important role in my life".

Summer, 1968

I am imbued with the Ionian Sea. We belong to the Ionian Sea. There is another kind of light there. A sweeter, softer light....I love greys, I do not know why. I have always aspired to painting in the colours of the partridge.

And now the late period

when he moved to geometric stylisation incorporating curves.

and a photograph of the artist during that period

Erotic, 1982

Dialogue, 1974

Dialogue, 1982

Summer, 1995

Erotic, 1979

Aigina, 1974

Untitled, 2001

Angel, 1979

Erotic, 2001

Girl untying her sandal, 1973

Contemplation, 2007

Can-Can, 1998-2001

Abstract, 1991

Figure I, 1978

Erotic, 1994

"An artist expresses himself through the wounds of his era".

One of his sculptures at the entrance of the National gallery.

Finally, even though it is not part of this exhibition, the engraving he designed for the side of the Hilton, which is next to the gallery.

When I started this post, I was intending to select just a few highlights, as I normally do,  as a reminder. This has turned out to be a virtual tour however - there was so much I wanted to be reminded of....


  1. Looks as if there are some charming possible candidates for!

  2. Are you working in Picasa to finish these photos? If so, try "tuning" and then increase "shadows" to see if it takes that slightly light glaze off the photographs, the paintings may be faded but I am sure not quite as faded as they are taken here without flash cos of gallery conditions.

    Love the girl untying her sandal...that's the one I'd take home.

  3. We've got a girl untying her sandal in a different form by a different artist. I thought we might have bought this one too - perhaps have to sell the house to buy it - but decided the flat might get too cluttered and we'd be homeless. My favourite is the Can Can.