Lefakis Christos (1906 - 1969)

He was born in Soufli (Evros) in 1906. He joined the School of Arts (later Athens School of Fine Arts) and graduated from K. Parthenis' studio in 1930. He worked as an art consultant, designer and restorer for the General Directorate of Antiquities (1930-1958) and the Directorate of Conservation of Ancient and Modern Monuments (1943-1956), participating in excavations and archaeological surveys and replicating artworks of the ancient/byzantine era. He also attended restoration workshops of various materials at the Istituto di Restauro of Rome on an italian state scholarship (1953-1954). His extensive experience on this field was significant for the development of his personal art.
His painting style was at first figurative, but it soon followed the abstraction movement of the '50s and the '60s. When his first solo exhibition was held in Athens (Zygos gallery, 1961), he had already started to shape his personal painting idiom, combining features from cubism and lyrical abstraction or abstract expressionism. He incorporated materials such as sand or paper in many of his works, for a relief surface effect. The poetic and contemplative dimension of his painting is expressed, at times through the tension of the monochrome, and at times through the gestural movement of colour spots. He is considered as the major pioneer of abstract art in Northern Greece, although his last works combine an abstract style with figurative forms.
He has also worked with mosaic, fresco painting, stained glass, printmaking, graphic arts and design of everyday objects. His writings on art have been often published. He was a member of the art groups Stathmi and Ergastiri.
He was elected head professor of the School of Visual Arts' Painting Department in the Faculty of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 1962, where he taught until his death (Thessaloniki, 1968), offering significant scholarly and educational work.
His work was presented in a limited number of solo and group exhibitions in Greece and abroad. He participated in the Biennale of Alexandria (1958), Sao Paulo (1961) and Venice (1968). His posthumous retrospective exhibitions were organized in 1969 (Techni Macedonian Art Company, Thessaloniki), in 1984 (Vafopouleio Cultural Centre, Thessaloniki) and in 1989 (Vellidis Conference Centre, Thessaloniki and Athens National Art Gallery). His monograph, Christos Lefakis: The painter and his oeuvre, was published by Egnatia Publications in 1978. His last retrospective exhibition was held at the Vafopouleio Cultural Centre in Thessaloniki in 2006, marking 100 years after his birth.