Yannis Moralis joins his Angels - The Best from Greece

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Posted on: 23/Dec/2009

“Life can never be constantly pleasant. You should see to it that you have a journey full of many, small happy moments. Be sure your suitcases are full before your departure.”
 "I have painted so many angels in my life. Soon, I will be one of them. You will see, this could be my last summer on Aegina" , said the renowned Artist Yannis Moralis to a Group of Greek Journalists last Summer.

His visual language established him as one of the leading masters of our contemporary iconographic culture, as it apparently responded first and foremost to demands raised by his own sense of creative time.

Yiannis Moralis had a gentle and disarming way of talking about death. He was not actively awaiting it, but was fully aware that, until his departure, he would relish every breath.

He was not just one of the last representatives of the 1930s generation, but also one of Athens’s last noble men. His elegant way of dressing, his gentleness, dignity and love of beauty make one wonder how in just a few decades that spiritual, gentle and modest Greece has disappeared. We are now living in another country, a pale reflection of the homeland that people such as Yiannis Tsarouchis, Nikos Nikolaou, Christos Kapralos, Manos Hadjidakis and Yiannis Pappas had loved. All of them fellow-travelers of Moralis, they all left before him, leaving the heavy burden of “Greekness” to rest on his shoulders.

Moralis thought that his choices were inevitable. “Every artist paints according to their era. I do not understand those who talk about the ‘Greekness’ of my works. It is as if I paint upon decision I am Greek, I was born and I grew up here, I like Greek nature so I automatically paint like this,” he had said to Fani Maria Tsigakou, to whom he related his life story on the occasion of the Benaki Museum’s 2001 retrospective exhibition and publication “Angels, Music, Poetry.”

Y. Moralis’ creative activity, has yielded an intensely eloquent visual work, stretching over a long period of time and constituting a major chapter in the historiography not only of Greek but also of international art. And this because, though true to his Mediterranean sensibility, Y. Moralis constantly referred to the humanist tradition that was at the heart of his schooling and managed to transcend, through his art, the boundaries of his own place.

His proposals were a synthesis of old and new, at the same time as they dynamically open themselves to the groundbreaking developments occurring within the seminal art movement of Modernism.

And yet, despite the immeasurable value of his work in painting, despite all that he generously offered as friend and instructor to many of our acclaimed contemporary painters, despite his crucial contribution in revitalizing the painting of his time, Y. Moralis has always been a modest man.

The Editor


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