Giorgos Lappas

Giorgos Lappas

1950 – 2016


Giorgos Lappas was born in Cairo in 1950. From an early age, he often visited the Cairo Museum with his father and observed the thousands of different-sized exhibits. In 1958, his family returned to Greece due to the Nasser regime persecutions and he graduated from high school at the Athens College. In his adolescence, he frantically visited archaeological sites, such as those of Kerameikos and Vravrona, looking for and examining archaeological fragments. At the same time, he painted portraits of his friends and created complex compositions influenced by Pop Art. From 1970 to 1974, he studied clinical psychology at Reed College. He then worked as a researcher and volunteered in psychiatric programs at Salem clinics in Oregon, San Francisco and San Diego. In 1974, he was awarded a fellowship from the Watson Foundation and traveled to India where he studied Indian sculpture and architecture. He then traveled to Iran and Afghanistan. In 1975, he studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and then continued his education in Italy. This is where he started drawing Venice’s buildings and architectural elements. In 1977, he enrolled the Department of Sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts and attended the workshops of Yannis Pappas and Giorgos Nikolaidis. He also met his future wife Aphrodite Liti at the School. In 1981, his first solo exhibition was held at the Zoumboulakis Gallery in Athens under the title Iron Grids and, in 1982, he won first prize for his participation at the Alexandria Biennale for his work Abacus. In 1984, he was awarded a scholarship from the French Institute in order to study sculpture at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1986, he worked in France and England for a year and, in 1987, he presented the work Mappemonde at the Zoumboulakis Gallery, a work that has been considered as a breakthrough in his artistic career. The artwork consists of nearly 3,000 three-dimensional figures from various materials that make up an infinite and variable miniaturized universe and represent chaotic images of different communities and beings within it. These figures reveal Lappas’ critical reflection on the relation of sculpture with space, the meticulous, mystical and at times surrealistic side of his creations, as well as the influences from his contact with cultures in various parts of the world. In 1988, Mappemonde was presented at the Aperto at the 43rd Venice Biennale in a more evolved form. Since the early 1990s, he started producing his characteristic red anthropocentric works, manifesting a shift in his themes and practice. His figures were now life sized and presented in groups or solo. Their form eliminated sculpture’s static restrictions, as was determined by iron-based mounting parts that allowed positioning and movement. More specifically, in his work Red Bourgeois, 1992, he dealt with issues related to the creator's relationship with the viewer, as well as values and ideals that relate to the nature of humankind with references from history and psychoanalysis. In 1991, he was awarded a fellowship from the Fondation Cartier and went to Jouy-en-Josas. In the same year, he participated in the renowned exhibition Metropolis curated by Christos M. Joachimides and Norman Rosenthal at the Martin Gropius-Bau in Berlin. In 1995, he traveled to England, the USA, Korea and Japan and, two years later, he was elected professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he taught until 2016. At the same time, he continued to travel to Canada, Asia, the USA and all over Europe. In 2005, George Lappas was published, a monograph by Futura publications in Athens. He died in Athens in 2016. He held many solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions in Greece and abroad. His major participations in international institutions include the Biennale des jeunes artistes (1982) in Paris, Europalia (1982) in Belgium, the São Paulo Biennial (1987), the Venice Biennale (1990), the Gwangju Biennale (1995), Documenta 14 (2017) in Athens and the ANTIDORON. The EMST Collection exhibition at the Fridericianum museum in Kassel, as part of Documenta 14 (2017).