Thursday, February 10, 2011

Giannoulis CHALEPAS-The touching story of the famous Greek MODERNIST sculptor

Giannoulis Chalepas, son of famous marble-artists from the island of Tinos.

His father, John, and his uncle had a large marble family business with branches in Bucharest, Izmir and Piraeus.
Giannoulis, the eldest of five siblings, had appealed to the marble and helped his father in preparing projects for the last several churches. His parents intended for marketing, but he eventually decided to study sculpture.

From 1869 up to 1872, he studied at the School of Arts (later the School of Fine Arts), taught by Leonidas Drosis. In 1873 he left for Munich on a scholarship of the Hellenic Foundation Evangelistra to continue his studies there in the Academy of Fine Arts under Max von Weidman. During his stay in Munich,  exhibited his work The Tale of Sleeping Beauty and Satyr plays with Eros, for which he was awarded. 
It also presented the Satyr plays with Eros, along with the relief of Affection, in the Exhibition of Athens in 1875.
Satyr plays with Eros
In 1876 he returned to Athens where he opened his own workshop. In 1877 he took in the marble Satyr plays with Eros, and the same year he began working the most famous sculpture,
The Sleeping on the grave of Sophia Afentaki in the First Cemetery of Athens. The success was followed by the envy and negative comments.
The Sleeping (proplasma)

The Sleeping (in First Cemetery of Athens)
Chalepas and  the Sleeping
In the winter of 1877 -1878, Chalepas suffered a nervous breakdown. Without any apparent reason, began to destroy his work and tried repeatedly to kill himself. We now know that the causes of mental illness was his perfectionism, his exhaustion from the constant work and an unfortunate love for a young fellow, who asked her to marry and her parents refused to give his. However, at the time, with psychology and psychiatry still in their early stages, parents of Chalepas and the doctors could not understand the root causes of mental illness of the young sculptor. So his parents sent him to travel to Italy to meet, but treatment was only temporary. Upon his return to Greece resumed symptoms: dumping in silence, isolation,  and innocent laughter.

That same year, while he made Medea, as his condition deteriorated continuously, to1888, the doctors diagnosed "dementia" and his decided to close in the Public Psychiatric Hospital of Corfu. In Mental Hospital, Chalepas met with the hard way that treats from everyone, the mentally ill at the time: the doctors and guards either prohibited to design and mold or destroy anything that's been developed and had hidden in the cupboard. It is said that from what he tried to create in the Mental Hospital to a single project was saved, stolen from a guard and scattered in the basement of the institution, if randomly found again in 1942.
In 1901, his father died a year later, his mother went to the Psychiatric Hospital to get him back together in the Pirgos of Tinos. 
InTinos remained under the strict supervision of his mother, who believed that her son went mad from the art. For this reason, the mother did not allow him to look again at the sculpture, to the point that if he was making something basic charcoal or clay that she wreck it.
When his mother died in 1916, Chalepas was completely break away from his art. Lived like a very poor shepherd and bearing the stigma of heavy madman of the village. He found, however, the courage and began again to deal with the sculpture. The instruments had been completely primitive and provincial environment hostile to any imbalance, but he stubbornly began to rise to make up for lost time.

In 1923, Thomas Thomopoulos, a professor at National Technical University of CHALEPAS and admired and copied in plaster many works of sculpture to present to the Academy of Athens in 1925. This report led to the sculptor awarded in 1927. Genuine talent, but also the reputation of mad sculptor who regained his sanity, established him as the "Van Gogh", the "Rodin" or "Picasso" of modernist artists. 
In 1928 was the second exhibition at Art Asylum and in 1930, with the persistence of a niece of the sculptor decided to settle in Athens.

Hermes Pegasus and Afrodite

He lived the last years of his life close to his, and always creative "in the nationwide fame.”
The Hunter


little rested

the reaper

The secret
Oidipus and Antigone


It is because of the brutality of the culture we live in, that artists like Giannoulis Chalepas not running from modern Media;
Modern media in an empty landscape that leaves us speechless by the beauty of sculpture, his agony to bring out the beauty of material, control of to reach the edge that leads to immersion in paranoia.
We want to support a type of solitary and self-sufficient person and a kind of art that celebrates the people being dead, since in line with Alan Kaprow, art today is a meaningless word ... But the point to live the man who will find;
Projects and creations and lives revealing the truthfulness human plasma.

by Michael Balaroutsos Architect
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