Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009) Nude 162 x 130 cm.

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Lot 90
Yiannis Moralis
(Greek, 1916-2009)
Nude 162 x 130 cm.

Sold for £ 216,000 (US$ 269,350) inc. premium
Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009)
signed, inscribed in Greek and dated '1991' (lower right); signed again and dated 'Yannis MORALIS/Athènes/Grèce/1991' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
162 x 130 cm.


    Zoumboulakis Galleries, Athens;
    Private collection, Athens.

    Athens, Zoumboulakis Galleries 5 March - 4 April 1992, (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, plate 14).

    Chrysanthos Christou, Moralis, Adam Publications, Athens 1993, no 245 (illustrated).
    Sima magazine, no. 7, March-April 1992, p. 25 (illustrated).

    Moralis' contribution to Greek culture
    is a point of reference for all of us.

    Karolos Papoulias
    President of the Hellenic Republic

    The great Moralis, who passed away last December leaving behind a legacy of exceptional artistic achievement and unparalleled ethos, was always driven, as Nobel Laureate Odysseus Elytis noted, 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."1

    This youthful female nude - one of these lovable forms endowed with grace and tenderness and created by the Muses and the Hours, as Ghika once described them, 2 was painted in the summer of 1991 on the artist's beloved island of Aegina. "I really liked Aegina. We came here in 1950 when all the old mansions were still around. First came my friends Capralos and then Nikolaou. Later, more people started coming, including Odysseus Elytis, Nikos Karydis with his daughters and many friends. We had a great life there. I also made some paintings that were later illustrated in books or magazines." 3 As S. Kapralou, wife of sculptor C. Kapralos, noted, "he warmly welcomed us to his studio and right away, so as not to loose the afternoon light, displayed his works one by one, with great care and sparse comments. Though daylight started to wane, another glow lit the atmosphere, tenderly embracing his 'doric' paintings." 4

    Prefacing the catalogue of the artist's 1992 one-man show in Athens, which included lot 90 gallery owner Peggy Zoumboulaki noted: "I first saw these works at the end of the summer of 1991 on the island of Aegina, at his sun-drenched seaside house designed by his friend, the architect Aris Konstandinidis. 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." 5

    When the show opened it created a stir. In his review - one of the most insightful essays ever written on the artist, Professor D.N. Maronitis noted: "I visited the Zoumboulakis gallery the morning after the opening, before the spots, which often seem like interrogating the paintings with their intense light, were lit. And suddenly I saw Moralis' 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." 6

    The female nude has always been the key subject in Moralis' art, tracing his stylistic development and revealing the wide range of his art historical and intellectual interests. Lit by an inner light, the same eternal light of Byzantine art which does not come from an external source but emanates from within. 7 Moralis' young Greek beauty is stripped from all descriptive details and extravisual references to capture the universal archetype of the female figure. "Moralis neither describes nor narrates but expresses and interprets the cosmological forces of creation. In his paintings one may trace a progress from earthly to heavenly love, from the sensual aspects of the subject to the universal and eternal, to the metaphysical and transcendental." 8 Through the rhythmically opposed and gently flowing curves of his magnificent nudes we actually worship the eternal continuation of life. 9

    1. O. Elytis, preface to the Moralis exhibition catalogue, Iolas-Zoumboulakis Galerie, Athens 1972.
    2. N. Chatzikyriakos-Ghika [in Greek], Nea Estia magazine, no. 1245, 15/5/1979.
    3. Interview [in Greek], Tachydromos magazine, no. 437, 12.8.2008, p. 36.
    4. C. Capralos, Autobiography [in Greek], Athens 2001.
    5. P. Zoumboulaki, 'Yiannis Moralis', exhibition catalogue, Athens, 1992
    6. D.N. Maronitis, 'The Gift of Vision' [in Greek], Vima daily, 15.3.1992.
    7. See M. Chatzidakis, 'Yannis Moralis' [in Greek], Zygos magazine, no. 80, July 1962, p. 6.
    8. C. Christou, Moralis, Adam publ., Athens 1993, pp. 20, 33, 34.
    9. 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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