Specialist, Head of Sale, Greek Sales
The Greek Sale / Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009) Pleine Lune I (signed and inscribed in Greek and dated (lower right); signed, dated and inscribed (on the reverse)acrylic on canvas)
Athens, Zoumboulakis Gallery, Moralis, March 1978, no. 25 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue).
Sima magazine, no. 22, no. 5, March 1979, p. 48 (illustrated).
T. Spiteris Archive, Tellogleion Art Institute, Thessaloniki, c. 1980, no. GR TITSpit f636_57, p. 4 (illustrated).
Yannis Moralis, Commercial Bank of Greece Group of Companies edition, Athens 1988, no. 251, p. 255 (illustrated).
To Tetarto magazine, no. 35, March 1988, p. 70 (shown with the artist in a photograph from his 1978 one man show at the Zoumboulakis Gallery, Athens).
C. Christou, Moralis, Adam editions, Athens 1993, no. 176 (illustrated).
Tenderly embraced by a soft glow of youthful radiance and enthralled by the poetry and eroticism of the curved line, Full moon I's graceful forms reflect the artist's long preoccupation not only with the schematised and suggestively rendered human figure, but also with the inner rhythm and musical resonance generated by the daring combination of varied types, shapes and colours. As aptly noted by Professor D.N. Maronitis, "Moralis's paintings take us directly to the wondrous world of pure vision, which emerges, however, from the world of touch.1
Demonstrating solid structure, purity of form, poetic abstraction, disciplined rhythm, harmonious proportions, and ingenious interplay of gently flowing curves, Full Moon I achieves a striking balance between feeling and thought. 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. 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."2
Reviewing the artist's work from the late 1970s, art history Professor C. Christou incisively noted that in these paintings "we overhear an internal dialogue between warm and cool colours, active and passive themes, hard and soft forms, fluid and fixed lines, all of which contrive to create an astonishingly expressive effect. Moralis remains true to the human figure, notwithstanding that he portrays it in such a simplified and schematic manner that it takes on the appearance of a mere suggestion."3 Likewise, K. Koutsomallis, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, noted: "1976 marks the beginning of a new period in his work devoted exclusively to geometric abstraction. Forms now become wholly immaterial, dissolving into pure schemata. Their monumental character does not reduce their sensuality. On the contrary, eroticism acquires its transcendental expression. In no way does this sensual robustness of form -vaguely reminiscent of nude human figures- take anything away from their graceful tenderness, lyrical quality and richness."4 The evocative symbolism of the couple's loving embrace and the serene rhythm dictated by a sense of human scale, compose a universe of poetic images that echoes the timeless values of ancient Greek art.
True to his Greek heritage and yet utilising a formal vocabulary informed by modern sensitivity, Moralis sought the realisation of a classical ideal, the discovery of a universal measure for logos and pathos. By focusing only on the essential, he expressed what is permanent and universal. "In his fragmented and elliptical figures and in the wealth of his linear compositions and chromatic statements, he neither describes nor narrates but expresses and interprets the forces of creation."5
1 D.N. Maronitis, "The Gift of Vision" [in Greek], To Vima daily, 15.3.1992.
2 O. Elytis, preface to the Moralis exhibition catalogue, Iolas-Zoumboulakis Galerie, Athens 1972.
3 C. Christou, Moralis, Adam editions, Athens 1993, p. 33.
4 K. Koutsomallis, "The Painting of Yannis Moralis, a Tentative Approach" in Y. Moralis, Traces, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art - Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Andros 2008, pp. 18-19, 30.
5 Christou, Moralis, pp. 20, 33, 34.