Jason Molfessis (1925 – 2009)

20 January - 5 March 2022

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Kalfayan Galleries (11 Haritos Street, Kolonaki, Athens) present an exhibition of works by Jason Molfessis (1925 - 2009), one of the most prominent post-war Greek painters and sculptors, who lived and worked mainly in Paris. This is the first solo presentation of the artist’s work after his death in 2009. With this exhibition, as well as through a series of future exhibitions, projects and presentations, Kalfayan Galleries ‘re-introduces’ the pioneering work of Molfessis, with the aim to highlight his artistic legacy and its importance for Modernism internationally. 

The works exhibited at Kalfayan Galleries are representative of the art envisioned and created by Molfessis: an art which is timeless, without borders, open, unconventional and which lets the viewer “inhale” the artwork.

For Molfessis, the aesthetic of the artwork is the "Trojan Horse" with which the work “accesses human sensitivity and is perceived". The artist himself is among the pioneers of his generation who showed a keen interest in the technological achievements of their time, especially in the computer. Molfessis however, never used the computer to create his works; what he did was to use the binary language of the computer to create his own abstract artistic universe.

Jason Molfessis was born in Athens in 1925. He studied at the School of Fine Arts between 1941-46 with teachers K. Parthenis, D. Biskinis and E. Thomopoulos, while also studying at the Athens Law School. While serving in the army he got acquainted with Byzantine art in the monasteries of Northern Greece and worked on a series of iconographies, seeking a spiritual counterweight to the barbarism of the raging civil war. In 1950 he left for Paris where he attended, at the École des Beaux Arts, Pierre-Henri Ducos’ fresco workshop as well as Jean Souverbie's painting workshop (1951-52).

Sophisticated, cultured, restless, with intense artistic and philosophical quests, Molfessis settled permanently in Paris in a period bursting with new movements of abstract art and abstract expressionism and closely experienced all the international artistic developments. He was part of the avant-garde of his time while maintaining contacts in Greece and had an exceptional artistic career, sublimating the stimulations and teachings of his environment into a special artistic language of his own.

Jason Molfessis, Untitled, 1996, blue polyester

Courtesy of MOLFESSIS Archives and Kalfayan Galleries

His house in Paris remained for years a meeting place for intellectuals and artists. Philosophers Axelos, Papaioannou, painters Prassinos, Coulentianos, Moralis, musician Xenakis, writers Alexandrou, Frangias or French Nobelist Claude Simon are just a few of the important personalities identified in Molfessis’s photographic archives.

In the twenty years period between 1950 and 1970 Molfessis mainly creates paintings which stand out for their lyricism, gestural style and dramatic expressionism, as well as for the color austerity that characterizes them (white, black, gray and ochre). Around 1960 he begins incorporating into his paintings the encoded language of the first computers, combining the black dots of the perforated telex tapes with his own gestural style. By transferring onto lead foils the system of dark points, holes and white spaces of the tapes, Molfessis creates his first reliefs. Using materials such as polyester, resins, plaster, metal, aluminum foil or lead, he processes and develops the forms that are created.

From 1970 onwards he starts creating in Paris and other cities of France - and to a lesser degree in Greece - sculptural spaces and monumental installations whose names such as Agora, Labyrinth, Sarcophagus, Temple, Fossil etc, refer both to ancient civilizations and to what Molfessis likes to call "remnants of the future”.

In 1988 Molfessis comes to Greece as a Professor at the School of Fine Arts of Thessaloniki. In 1991 he returns to Paris where he stays for another decade before settling permanently in Greece, dividing his time between Athens and Aegina, the island he chose for its particular light and gentle landscape. He works tirelessly, creative until the very end. He dies in his home in Athens on January 19, 2009, at the age of 84.