Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009) Eroticon 130 x 162.5 cm.
Lot 45AR
Yiannis Moralis
(Greek, 1916-2009)
Eroticon 130 x 162.5 cm.
Sold for £ 199,250 (US$ 263,976) inc. premium

The Greek sale

22 May 2012, 14:00 BST

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009)
signed, inscribed in Greek and dated '1991' (lower right); signed 'Yannis MORALIS/Athènes/Grèce' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
130 x 162.5 cm.


  • Painted in 1991.

    Athens, Zoumboulakis Gallery, Moralis, March 1992, no. 17 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p. 39).
    Thessaloniki, Zita-Mi Gallery, Moralis, June 1992.
    Ermoupolis, Cyclades Art Gallery, Yannis Moralis-Ermopouleia 2005, August-September 2005 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p. 69).
    Andros, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Y. Moralis - Traces, 2008 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p. 101).

    Kerdos newspaper, 27.2.1992 (illustrated).
    Sima magazine, no. 7, March-April 1992, p. 32 (illustrated).
    Tachydromos magazine, 4.3.1992 (illustrated).
    Vivere magazine, March 1992 (illustrated).
    Niki newspaper, 14.3.1992 (illustrated).
    Moralis, Critical text by Ch. Christou, Adam Editions, Athens 1993, no 246 (illustrated).
    C. Christou, Yannis Moralis: The Artist, the Teacher, His Work, Minutes of the Academy of Athens 1996, vol. 71, 1997, pp. 178-179 (referred).

    In his keynote speech on the work of Yannis Moralis delivered to the members of the Academy of Athens in April 1996, Professor C. Christou made a special remark about the Bonhams picture: "Erotic, 1991, held in a private collection, is distinguished by inwardness, poetry and the eroticism of the curved line accentuated by a few verticals and horizontals. The artist's Erotic series, which he started in 1977, reflect not only his preoccupation with this subject matter, but at the same time his efforts to endow his work with additional perspectives and expressive wealth. And it's not difficult for one to understand that his starting point is always the female form, schematised and suggestively rendered, with emphasis on wonderful curvaceous elements that evoke the subject's inner world. Thanks to his varied types, different forms and colour combinations, these works are distinguished not only by their inner rhythm but also for their musical resonance. What's more, it's impossible to formally analyse them, due to their wealth of expressive possibilities that invites multiple readings and magnificently convey entire worlds."1

    Reviewing Moralis's work in 1992, Athens National Gallery Director M. Lambraki-Plaka noted that "in his recent paintings, Moralis seeks a geometric ideogram for love."2 This poignant remark perfectly suits the artist's brilliant Erotic, which was included in the artist's 1992 one-man show in Athens. Prefacing the exhibition catalogue, gallery owner Peggy Zoumboulaki noted: "I first saw these works at the end of the summer of 1991 on the island of Aegina, at Moralis's sun-drenched seaside studio. Seeing these works, which overflow with eroticism and love for the female body, one feels that nothing is superficial, that the artist has lived every moment of his work. By eliminating any superfluity that might reveal pointless sentimentality, Moralis reaches the meaningful essence."3

    When the show opened it created a stir. In his review Professor D.N. Maronitis noted: "I saw Moralis's works looking out with their clear vision, dominating with their proud solitude. His paintings take us directly to the wondrous world of pure vision, which emerged, however, from the world of touch. That's a way to somehow explain the geometry of bodies and colours that constantly abstract and are abstracted to reach their final shape and immutable tone."4
    Reviewing the show, art critic V. Karaiskou noted: "The erotic encounter of two people, life's greatest mystery, stripped from any external element that threatens to alienate it, is depicted in a simple and, therefore, essential way. The figures are broken down to their constituent parts and then reassembled; as a result the lines take on a symbolic import and respond to each other by means of their contrasts and similarities. Any dryness or harshness that could result from such an austere, constructivist approach, is avoided due to the artist's sensitivity."5

    Demonstrating solid structure, purity of form, poetic abstraction, disciplined rhythm, harmonious proportions, inspired synthesis of gently flowing curves and ingenious interplay of active and passive themes, Eroticon achieves a striking balance between erotic passion, lyrical feeling and intellectual thought. As Nobel Laureate Odysseus Elytis once noted, "Moralis was always driven by a longing for the monumental, bestowing even on his most sensual conceptions a feeling of mystery and a Biblical sense of the sacred. Memories and encounters are repeatedly distilled until they blend into forms of great simplicity and precision. The earth of Aegina and the bodies of young girls emerge with the dampness of the sea, like magnified fragments of ancient Greek vases or miniature frescoes from a bygone place of worship."6

    True to his classical Greek heritage and yet utilizing a formal vocabulary balanced to the scale of modern sensitivity, Moralis seeks the realization of a classical ideal, the discovery of a universal measure for logos and pathos. "Moralis uses abstraction to isolate the core of human existence, to create through his art a language of symbols. He paints the Aegean Sea, the isle of Aegina, the union of human bodies: evocative forms that echo age-old memories, freed from the burden of their physical existence."7 In the summer afternoons in his island studio [where Erotic was created], some close friends have had the privilege to first see the master's latest works. "Though daylight started to wane, another glow lit the atmosphere, tenderly embracing his 'doric' paintings."8

    1. C. Christou, Yannis Moralis: The Artist, the Teacher, His Work [in Greek], Minutes of the Academy of Athens 1996, vol. 71, 1997, pp. 178-179.
    2. M. Lambraki-Plaka, Parthenis, Ghika, Moralis [in Greek], To Vima daily, 27.9.1992, p. B4.
    3. P. Zoumboulaki, preface to the Moralis exhibition catalogue, Zoumboulakis Galery, Athens, 1992.
    4. D.N. Maronitis, The Gift of Vision [in Greek], To Vima daily, 15.3.1992.
    5. V. Karaiskou, An Attempt to Approach Yannis Moralis's Work [in Greek], Sima magazine, no. 7, March-April 1992, p. 20.
    6. O. Elytis, preface to the Moralis exhibition catalogue, Iolas-Zoumboulakis Galerie, Athens 1972.
    7. Y. Bolis, Yannis Moralis [in Greek], Ta Nea ed., Athens 2007, p. 79.
    8. See C. Capralos, Autobiography [in Greek], Athens 2001.
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