Moralis Yannis (1916 - 2009)

He was born in 1916 in Arta. He studied painting and printmaking at the Athens School of Fine Arts with Argyros, Geraniotis, Kefallinos and Parthenis (1931-1936). In 1937, he went to Rome and then to Paris, where he studied fresco at the École des Beaux Arts and mosaic at the École des Arts et Metiers (on an Athens Academy scholarship). He returned to Greece when the War began.
His talent had already been recognized since the '30s and the '40s, when he was participating in group exhibitions. In 1947, he was elected professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he worked for 36 years, teaching painting to many generations of younger artists.
In 1949 he co-founded the art group Armos and in 1958 he represented Greece in the Venice Biennale (along with Y. Tsarouchis and A. Sochos). The following year his first solo exhibition was held in Athens (Armos gallery, 1959).
The starting point of his work is the painting concerns of the ‘30s generation, with an apparent tendency to search for the essential elements of the image, on a visual and expressive level. Gradually, his compositions aquire a monumental character and allude to ancient greek bas-reliefs. The human figure, especially the female one, dominates his entire painting work. Since the early 70's, his work focuses on structural and plastic values. The geometry of the compositions is highlighted and forms are schematized to the fullest, tending to unite with space. The subjects, mostly female nudes or erotic complexes, are integrated in harmonic unions of geometric shapes and flat colours, remaining, however, recognizable.
Apart from painting and printmaking, he also created sets and costumes, mainly for Karolos Koun’s Theatro Technis and the National Theatre of Greece. He also created illustrations, posters, murals and sculptures. His decorative compositions can be found in many indoor and outdoor areas of public buildings and at the ‘Panepistimio’ station of the Athens Metro.
His work, which expresses perfectly the sensibility of his generation, was appreciated not only by poets and intellectuals but also by the public. He presented 10 solo exhibitions (mainly at Zoumboulakis gallery) and participated in a few group ones. In 1988, all aspects of his art were presented retrospectively at the Athens National Art Gallery, to which the artist donated a part of his work. A large book volume containing his entire work was also published at the same time. His last major exhibitions were held at the Academy of Athens (1996) and the Benaki Museum (2001).
He received honorary distinctions, such as the medal of Commander of the Phoenix (1965), the Athens Academy award for Excellence in Arts (1979) and the medal of the Commander of Honour (1999). He died 2009 in Athens.