Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009) Girl going into the sea, 1974 116 x 85 cm.
Lot 35AR
Yiannis Moralis
(Greek, 1916-2009)
Girl going into the sea, 1974 116 x 85 cm.
Sold for £98,500 (US$ 159,121) inc. premium

Lot Details
Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009)
Girl going into the sea, 1974
signed in Greek and dated '74' (upper left); signed and dated 'Yannis MORALIS/Athènes Grèce/1974' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
116 x 85 cm.

Footnotes

  • Painted in 1974.

    PROVENANCE:
    Tassos Zoumboulakis Gallery, no 26.
    Private collection, Athens.

    EXHIBITED:
    Athens, Zoumboulakis Gallery, March 1978, no. 26 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue).

    LITERATURE:
    Sima magazine, no. 22, March-April 1979, p. 48 (illustrated).
    Yannis Moralis, Commercial Bank of Greece Group of Companies, Athens 1988, no. 250, p. 254 (illustrated).


    In his seminal 1987 essay on Moralis's oeuvre, former Athens National Gallery Director D. Papastamos singled out and discussed 15 major works, only two of which were held in private collections. One of these two was Girl going into the sea, a painting he considered a milestone in the artist's career.1

    Gracefully lifting her skirt and cautiously testing the cool waters of the Aegean on a hot summer day, the young bather -one of these lovable female forms created by the Muses and the Hours, as Ghika once described them,2 glows like a time-softened marble kore brought to light in a Greek garden. As noted by Nobel laureate O. Elytis "by using a limited vocabulary of form, in which recurrent and opposing curves of ochres and blacks dominate, Moralis has succeeded -in a manner unprecedented in Greek art- to transform the language of the natural world into a purely optical phenomenon. Memories and encounters are repeatedly distilled until they blend into forms of great simplicity and precision. 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."3

    Although embraced by the summer sun, the young bather is not lit by the light of day. There isn't a single reflected glint that would give even a momentary glow to her nude body. Instead, she is imbued with her own light, the same eternal light of Byzantine art which does not derive from a specific source but emanates from within.4 Instead of setting out to capture the fleeting moment, as an impressionist would do, Moralis aims to transform the human figure into a monumental, timeless form. By sacrificing descriptive detail, rejecting the illusion of space, avoiding tonal gradations and emphasising only the essential structural elements, Moralis expressed what is permanent and universal.

    The poetic schematisation of form, the shallow compositional depth reminiscent of sculptural relief and the serene rhythm dictated by the classical sense for human scale, compose an evocative representation that echoes the timeless values of ancient Greek art. True to his heritage and yet utilising a formal vocabulary perfectly balanced to the scale of contemporary sensitivity, Moralis sought the realisation of a classical ideal: the discovery of a universal measure for lyrical feeling and intellectual thought. His pure forms and abstractive surfaces are the distilled essence of human presence.

    "Dedicated to the human figure, particularly the female one, Moralis has given us some of the most significant and intrinsic aspects of 20th c. art –not only of Greek but of world art. In his fragmented and elliptical figures and in the wealth of his linear compositions and chromatic statements, Moralis neither describes nor narrates but expresses and interprets the cosmological forces of creation."5 Through the rhythmically opposed and gently flowing curves of his magnificent girls we actually worship the eternal continuation of life.6

    1. See Yannis Moralis, Commercial Bank of Greece, Athens 1988, p. 22.
    2. N. Chatzikyriakos-Ghika [in Greek], Nea Estia magazine, no. 1245, 15/5/1979.
    3. O. Elytis, preface to the Moralis exhibition catalogue, Iolas-Zoumboulakis Gallery, Athens 1972.
    4. See M. Chatzidakis, Yannis Moralis, Zygos magazine, no. 80, July 1962, p. 6; M. Chatzidakis, Yiannis Moralis, The Charioteer review, vol. 1, no. 1, Summer 1960, pp. 56-62.
    5. C. Christou, Moralis, Adam publ., Athens 1993, pp. 20, 33, 34
    6. See H. Kambouridis, Sacred and Profane, Aspects of the Female in Modern Greek Painting 1930-2005, Chania-Athens, 2005, p. 86.
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