Katraki (Leonardou) Vasso (1914 - 1988)

She was born in 1914 in Aitoliko (Aetolia-Acarnania). She studied painting with K. Parthenis and printmaking with Y. Kefallinos at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1936-1940). She graduated with a three-month scholarship in painting, an award and two distinctions in printmaking. She was among the students of Kefallinos who created the famous War posters in 1940-41. Soon enough, she got involved in the Greek Resistance and she illustrated with woodcuts many illegal print media of the era. In 1949, she participated in the creation of the art group Stathmi.
Her first solo exhibition (Zachariou gallery, 1955) coincided with a decisive shift in her technique: she gradually began to cut her works directly on stone, rather than wood. The development and perfection of this entirely personal technique became an integral part of her printmaking work and its evolution.
Her art touches a wide range of subjects, from everyday scenes to mythological allegories, revealing social sensitivity and a deeply humanitarian inclination at all times. Her aesthetics is strongly attached to greek tradition, moving, however, to daring abstract schematizations which, with time, become particularly intense, through the contrast of black and white. During her exile to Yaros island (by the dictatorship of 1967), she was able to express herself by painting pebbles with blank ink. However, her most mature works, dated after 1970, are large prints with clean-cut monumental forms, which she cut on sandstone and printed on white paper.
She presented her work in more than 20 solo exhibitions in Greece and abroad and participated in group exhibitions and international art fairs, such as: The Ljubljana Biennial, from 1956 to 1977 non-stop, the Tokyo Biennale, from 1960 to 1970, the Sao Paulo Biennale (1957) and the Venice Biennale (1966), where she was honored with the International Lithography Award, ‘Tamarind’. In 1958, she was also awarded the 1st prize in printmaking at the Alexandria Biennale and the Lugano Biennale (Premium ex æquo). In 1965, she became an honorary member of L'Accademia Fiorentina delle Arti del Disegno, and in 1976, she received the 1st prize at the International Exhibition Intergrafik (East Berlin).
In 1980, she presented a retrospective exhibition of her work at the Athens National Art Gallery. Following her death (Athens, 1988), numerous honorary retrospective exhibitions and tributes of her work have been organized (1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2011).
In 1995, the Vasso Katraki Museum – Printmaking Art Centre was established in Aitoliko, opening in 2006, with a permanent exhibition of her entire work.