Yiannis Gaitis

24 November - 31 December, 2009

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The exhibition is part of a series of shows that Kalfayan Galleries organize periodically featuring representative artists of the post-war period in Greece.

Whether confined in sardine cans, seated in chairs or depicted as anonymous crowds, the faceless protagonists in the works of Yiannis Gaitis, express the alienation felt by contemporary man and the rampant consumerism and uniformity that marks our society.  These anonymous men are present at funerals, lectures, football matches where the message is one of human loneliness.

A student of Constantine Parthenis at the School of Fine Arts in Athens, Yiannis Gaitis (1923-1984) experimented with different stylistic trends of the times such as abstract expressionism, surrealism and cubism, before embarking on the depiction of small creatures resembling primordial forms that were to develop later into his well-known “little men”.  Like Kessanlis, Caniaris, his close friend Tsingos and many others, he was one of many post-war Greek artists who created works with a uniquely individual character, using a new, vibrant artistic vocabulary. And like many of his peers, he traveled to Europe, settling in Paris for many years before returning to Athens in 1974, after the fall of the dictatorship.  

In his canvases, Gaitis always favored a narrative expression.  His early works are constructed in a manner that is reminiscent of Byzantine icons where events from the lives of the saints surround the central image, or in bands such as one sees in comic strips.  In 1969 Yiannis Gaitis presented for the first time his “little men” in their striped suits, at the Goethe Institute in Athens and they continued to make their presence felt in the Greek art world until his untimely death in 1984.  In the same year, the National Gallery in Athens held a major retrospective of his work and in 2006 the Benaki Museum honored him with a second retrospective exhibition.

In the exhibition at Kalfayan Galleries, works from different periods of his life will be shown, providing a glimpse into the mind of an imaginative and inventive artist.