L. Kanakakis, London 1983
Lefteris Kanakakis was born in Rethymnon in 1934.
In 1954 he entered the Athens School of Fine Arts with a scholarship. His teachers were Spyros Papaloukas and Yiannis Moralis. He first stayed in Paris with a scholarship from the Estate of Mika Skouze (1960-1961). Getting a scholarship from the National Scholarships Foundation later, he enrolled in the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux Arts at the atelier of Maurice Brianchon (1963-1966). In 1968, he became assistant in the preparatory class of the Athens School of Fine Arts and resigned from that position in 1978.
He was a member of the Fine Arts Chamber and a founding member of the Centre of Fine Arts.
Until the end of the ‘70’s, he painted mainly still life and interiors. Some of his compositions, especially during the time of the Junta in Greece, get to the point of a direct political critique of the circumstances. The great turning point in the painting of L. Kanakakis is observed around 1980, when the painter is almost entirely won over by female nudes and portraits.
He had his first individual exhibition at the Municipal Gallery of Rethymnon in 1960. When he returned from Paris, he exhibited his work at the Astor Gallery in Athens in 1969. In 1974, he showed his paintings at the Zoumboulaki Gallery in Athens and at the “Kochlia” in Thessaloniki. In 1977, Gallery “Ora” exhibited his work in Athens and the Festival of Fine Arts of Rethymnon. In 1978, his works were shown in Heraklion (at the Stavrakaki Gallery), in 1980 at the “Nees Morfes” Gallery in Athens and in 1982 at the Art Gallery of Heraklion. In 1983, a retrospective exhibition of his paintings was held at the Saint Mark Basilica of Heraklion. His last individual exhibition was held at the “Nees Morfes” Gallery in Athens in 1984.
His most important participations in group exhibitions are the following:
1969 Sixième Biennale de Paris.
1970 Modern Art Exhibition, Nicosia, Cyprus.
1971 Greek Art today, Upper Grosvenor Galleries, London.
1973 11 Greek Painters, Galerie d’Eend, Amsterdam.
1976 Panorama of Greek Painting, 1950-1975, National Gallery in Athens.
1976 Panorama of Greek Painting of the last 25 years at the Am Ostwall in Dortmund.
1977 Exposition Internationale des Arts Plastiques, Belgrade Modern Art Museum.
1978 Musée d’ Art Contemporain, Skopje.
1978 Modern Greek Painters and Engravers (National Gallery), Nicosia.
1982 “Objects” Yakinthos Gallery.
1983 Salon de Peinture Méditerranéen, Algiers.
1985 Contemporary Trends of Modern Greek Art, National Gallery in Athens.
1985 Memories, Reconstructions, Searches, National Gallery.
1986 Exhibition of professors of the Athens School of Fine Arts at Apopsi. Co-organized at the EAT/ESA building. “Paintings Area-Theatrikotita”, in Palaio Faliro.
In November 1983, he was awarded the Kazantzakis prize by the Municipality of Heraklion.
He wrote “The Oil Technique”, a textbook to be used by the students of the Athens School of Fine Arts, a unique study in Greek bibliography.
He died on January 2, 1985 at an especially creative phase of his life.
A year after his death (1986), the National Gallery in Athens organized a big retrospective exhibition of his work.
In 1989, a Municipal Gallery was created in Rethymnon which bears his name and includes quite a large number of his works. The Municipal Gallery “L. Kanakakis”-Contemporary Art Museum of Crete, was inaugurated and opened to the public in 1992, when Dimitris Archontakis was Mayor.
There is a lot of bibliography on the work of Lefteris Kanakakis and a large number of articles in the Greek and European Press.