The Greek Sale
16 Nov 2016
London, New Bond Street

Yiannis Moralis (1916-2009), Reclining Woman, estimated at £120,000-180,000

Works by three Masters of Greek Modernism feature in Bonhams next Greek Sale in London on Wednesday 16 November. Reclining Woman by Yiannis Moralis (1916-2009) is estimated at £120,000-180,000; Riverbed by Nikos Ghika (1906-1994) at £100,000-150,000 and Sur la Guerre d'Indépendance (Paysage Orphique) by Nikos Engonopoulos (1910-1985) at £90,000-130,000.

Olympia Pappa from the Bonhams Greek Art department, said, "These key works by Moralis, Ghika and Engonopoulos embody the true principle of Greek spirit and form. All three artists, belonging to the renowned Generation of the Thirties, aspired throughout their working lives to develop a Hellonocentric Modernism. Each of them captured the essence of Greekness but presented it in a different, compelling, innovative and idiosyncratic way."

Reclining Woman demonstrates a striking balance between erotic passion, lyrical feeling and rational thought. Moralis always sought to realise a classical ideal in his work and this painting shows the artist using a formal modern style yet remaining true to his classical Greek heritage. His nude, stripped of all descriptive details, embodies the archetype of the female figure.

Hidden in a Parisian collection for many years, Riverbed is a highpoint of Ghika's mature style. Monumental in scale, magnificent in colour and bold in vision, this striking and beautifully executed composition shows the painter's unique expressive language. It is a luxuriant work that illustrates Ghika's innovative approach and mystical connection to nature.

In the mid-1970s, when this work was painted, the artist was mainly interested in exploring the different qualities of light and atmosphere. He was, however, not only concerned with the landscape's constant movement and dynamic elusiveness but also sought to unlock its innermost secrets.

Engonopoulos's Sur la Guerre d' Indépendance, juxtaposes a Minotaur holding a lyre with a Greek warrior brandishing a horse's head. This provides the artist with an ideal opportunity to explore the association of history and myth in the collective consciousness of the Greek people, a quest that had always been a defining feature of his art. The coexistence of ancient past (exemplified mainly by the lyre-holding Orpheus with the Minotaur head), recent history (illustrated by the hero of the Greek War of Independence in his traditional fustanella kilt) and modern reality (captured in such details as the round coffee shop table on the left, the still life with fruit in the foreground and the striped beach cabin in the distance) faithfully reflects the artist's attitude towards painting, both as a long and rich tradition on which to draw, as well as an ideal vehicle to probe the inner world of Greekness.


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