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Gaitis Yannis
(1923 Athens - 1984 Athens)

He originally studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts and in 1949 participated, with Alekos Kontopoulos and other artists who had turned to abstract art, in the founding of the group "The Extremists". In 1954 he went to Paris where he completed his studies at the School of Fine Arts and the Grande Chaumiere Academy. Working both in Paris and Athens and having started his exhibition activity in 1944 with a solo show at his studio and then at the Parnassos Hall, he continued to present his work at solo shows in Parisian and Athenian galleries as well as European countries and America while in 1984, a week before his death, a large retrospective was launched at the National Gallery. He participated in numerous exhibitions in Greece and abroad, among which the Sao Paolo Biennales of 1952 and 1967 and the 1982 Europalia in Brussels stand out. His work was also presented in exhibitions after his death including a retrospective at the Vafopouleio Cultural Center of Thessaloniki in 1994.
Involved primarily with painting and, on a more limited scale, sculpture and engraving, he started with portraits and quickly moved on to abstract expressionism and surrealist compositions, then cubist and geometric compositions and, at the same time, abstract sculptural compositions of plaster, corresponding to his painting. For a period his creations dealt with insects, little men, birds and plants which suggest an absurd world. Just past the midpoint of the Sixties he began to make his wellknown figure of a little man, which he originally repeated around a central representation and later made into a schematic and standardized figure, constituting a symbol and ironic means of social criticism, repeated in a number of variations. Using this midget as a focus he also created constructions, greater than lifesize sculptural compositions, environments and happenings, which he also transferred to clothes, fabrics and games."