He studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1952-1958) with Yannis Pappas, and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris (1961-1964) on Greek State scholarship. He completed his studies with courses with Ossip Zadkine and Robert Couturier. In 1966, he taught at the Athens School of Fine Arts as assistant to Yannis Pappas, and from 1968 until 1976 free drawing at the Athens Technological Institute. He has been member of the art group “Armos” [Junction] and of the Association of Sculptors.

His exhibition activity includes solo shows and participation in group exhibitions in Greece and other countries, including exhibitions of the “Armos” group, Panhellenic exhibitions as well as the Biennale of Sao Paulo (1967), Venice (1970) and Budapest (1971).

In his work, Yannis Parmakelis was initially interested in traditional forms of sculpture, emphasising realistic traits, often adopting an archaic vocabulary. During 1968-1974 and as a result of his wish to voice social and political criticism, the human being became the focus of his sculpture, and his compositions became surrealistic and expressionistic, with passion and intensity reaching great intensity in his series Martyrs and Victims. He progressively turned towards abstraction, using geometric forms in order to create colourful constructions from readymade industrial materials. Besides free sculptures, he has also produced works for public sites and a great number of medals.