Figurehead signed in Greek and dated '94' (lower left); signed and dated again 'Yannis MORALIS / Athenes / Grece / 1994' (on the reverse) acrylic on canvas 100 x 89 cm.
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Athens.
EXHIBITED: Athens, Zoumboulakis Galleries, March 1997.
LITERATURE: Kathimerini newspaper, 23 March 1997, p. 33 (illustrated). Chrysanthos Christou, Moralis, Adam Editions, Athens 2004, p. 250 (illustrated).
In the prolific hands of Moralis the legendary Greek akroproro, this delightfully carved female figure that adorned the bows of the old sailing ships, becomes a symphony of abstract forms that allude to the distilled essence of human presence. True to the tradition of the Hellenic civilization, and yet utilizing a formal vocabulary perfectly balanced to the scale of contemporary sensitivity, the artist seeks the realization of a classical ideal, the rediscovery of a universal measure of spiritual thought and pathos. "The painter uses abstraction to isolate the core of human existence, to create trough his art a language of symbols. The austerity, disciplined inner rhythm, harmonious proportions and purity of form are the defining characteristics of his work. Moralis 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."1 As Nobel laureate O. Elytis once said "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."2
Painted in his summer studio on the island of Aegina in August 1994, Figurehead showcases the key elements of Moralis's unique style: solid compositional structure, poetic schematization of form, expressive synthesis of recurrent and opposing curves, and an ingenious interplay of active and passive themes. In the catalogue of the artist's 1997 one-man show in Athens, which included this fascinating canvas, the Director of the Benaki Museum Professor A. Delivorrias noted: "Moralis' painting is a satiating painting whose freshness delights the troubled soul, whose sensitivity arouses the emotions, whose intellectualism stimulates the mind. His artistic idiom is creatively tested on the experiential reserves of antiquity, the Byzantine past and the Modern Greek vision."3
1. Y. Bolis, Yannis Moralis [in Greek], Ta Nea ed., Athens 2007, p. 79. 2. O. Elytis, preface to the Moralis exhibition catalogue, Iolas-Zoumboulakis Galerie, Athens 1972. 3. A. Delivorrias, "Transformations of Greekness in Yannis Moralis' Painting", preface to the Moralis exhibition catalogue, Zoumboulakis Galerie, Athens 1997.