Yannis Moralis / Γιάννης Μόραλης [1916-2009] is an outstanding figure in Modern Greek painting. He became a professor at the School of Fine Arts at a very early age and for years taught the younger generations of Greek painters.
Born at Arta (Epirus), Yannis Moralis studied painting in the School for Fine Arts, Athens (1931-1936) with Dimitris Geraniotis, Costas Parthenis and Umbertos Argyros and etching with Yannis Kefallinos. Dimitris Yeraniotis, Konstantinos Parthenis, Umbertos Argyros and Yannis Kefallinos were his professors, while his classmates - including Yannis Tsarouchis, Christos Kapralos and Nikos Nikolaou - would become his friends.
With a scholarship from the Academy of Athens (1937) he studied mosaics and frescos in Rome. Subsequently he attended lessons on painting and fresco in Paris, at the École des Beaux Arts and on mosaics at the École des Arts et Métiers. He had presented his work in many solo and group exhibitions both in Greece and abroad, having had his first one-man show in Athens, 1959.
He had realized a series of engravings and book illustrations and had designed the stage scenery and costumes of many theater and dancing performances. He had also created a number of mural decorations. He had been awarded with the Painting Award of the Pan-Hellenic Exhibition (1940) and the Gold Medal of the Munich International Exhibition, 1973. In 1947 he was elected professor of the Preparatory Workshop of the School of Fine Arts, Athens and in 1957 professor of the Workshop for Painting of that same School. He had been named Commander of the Royal Order of Phoenix (1965) and of the Order of Honour, 1999. This particular painting belongs to the period of abstract geometry in his work. Yannis Moralis passed away in Athens, 2009.
By the time of Moralis' retirement in 1983, nine out of ten professors at the Fine Arts School had been his students. His influences ranged from Greek art and Byzantine iconography to neoclassicism, romanticism and realism. Moralis delved into the timeless topics of love and the agony of death. Geometric abstraction and a focus on the female figure were central to his art. The artist, who also designed sets and costumes for National Theatre and National Ballet performances as well as illustrations for George Seferis' and Odysseas Elytis' poetry, often returned to the female figure in an attempt to decipher its riddles.
Distant and elusive, Yannis Moralis rarely gave interviews. At his retrospective show on Andros in the summer of 2008 he had said of his shying away from publicity: "One of the reasons I don't give interviews is that I feel the spectrum of my paintings is reduced afterwards. I want my works to be free like myself, as I want the viewer to feel free to read in them the meanings he or she wishes".