In 1945 he went to South Africa, where he studied architecture at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. In 1949, wanting to get involved with painting, he interrupted his studies and went to Paris where he remained for thirty years. His first exhibition at the Arnaud gallery in the French capital was followed by a series of solo shows in Amsterdam, Antwerp, London, Paris and New York. Between 1979 and 1999 he was the director of the Teriade Museum on the island of Lesbos where he settled permanently.

His trip to Lesbos in 1956 is considered to be a watershed for his painting, for it signals the start of a period of landscape painting, which in the beginning was abstract and then became progressively more figurative.