Yannoulis Chalepas was a uniquely gifted artist. But his life and artistic development were marked by the manifestation of mental illness that led to confinement in a psychiatric hospital on the island of Corfu and a forty-year hiatus in his artistic production. The first symptoms of aberrant behavior presented in 1878, the same year that he completed his first body of work, referred to by historians as the “first period.”
“Satyr’s Head” is among the last works of Yannoulis Chalepas’ first creative period. A realistic, highly modeled figure, it is a virtually psychographic, personal portrait of a mature man. The vivid, penetrating gaze and enigmatic smile establish the figure’s personality. The smile appears at once sarcastic or demonic and melancholy, depending on the angle from which it is regarded. In fact, this piece caused Chalepas such emotional distress that he tried to destroy it by scratching and throwing clay at it.