Born in Kosmas of Kynouria (Arcadia, Peloponnese) in 1963, he was an Athens School of Fine Arts student of Panagiotis Tetsis and Yiannis Valavanides (1982-1987). He pursued his studies at the Parisian École nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts under Leonardo Cremonini (1988-1991) thanks to a Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation scholarship coupled with P. Bakala Bros Foundation grant. He worked with ‘Apopsi’, a Cultural Centre, between 1996-2002; as of 2002 has been working with ‘Simio’ Art Group, where he tutors painters. In 2001 he received the Academy of Athens award for new painters under the age of 40 and in 2006 the Alexandros S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation conferred an honourable distinction for his work. He has maintained a permanent collaboration with “Medusa Art Gallery”, in Athens, since his first solo exhibition there in 1988. Works by him can be found in public and private collections. He lives and works in Athens.

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2007 Medusa Gallery, Athens
  • 2004 Portraits and Nudes, The Foundation for Hellenic Culture, New York
  • 2000 Medusa Gallery, Athens
  • 1996 Galerie Flak, Paris
  • 1993 Medusa Gallery and Medusa + 1, Athens
  • 1988 Medusa Gallery, Athens

Group Exhibitions

  • 2013 The 80's Generation - Contemporary Greek Painting from the Sotiris Felios Collection, National Gallery - Alexander Soutzos Museum - Sparta Annex, (Coumantaros Art Gallery), Sparta
  • 2013 Somatographies - Contemporary Greek Painting from the Sotiris Felios Collection, National Gallery - Alexander Soutzos Museum - Nafplion Annex, Nafplion
  • 2012 Ellenico Plurale - Dipinti dalla Collezione Sotiris Felios, Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome (curated by Giuliano Serafini)
  • 2012 Between Reality and Fantasy. Works from the Sotiris Felios Collection, Giorgio de Chirico Art Center, Volos (curated by Irene Orati)
  • 2011 Bodies & Lanscapes, Contemporary Greek Painting from the Hadjioannou  Collection, Greek Cultural Foundation, Berlin, Germany
  • 2010 Human limits,Cultural Centre “Melina”, Municipality of Athens, Athens, Greece
  • 2010 Contemporary Greek Painting part of the Sotiris Felios Collection, Sismanoglio Megaro, Istanbul
  • 2010Deconstructing the canvas, inventing the image: works from the Antonis and Azia Hatzioannou collection, Toumpa Cultural Centre, Thessaloniki (Dimitria 2010), Greece
  • 2009 Greek Colour. Sixteen Contemporary Artists, Sotheby’s, London
  • 2009 Contemporary Greek Art, Hellenic Museum, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2009 Watercolors of the Greek Landscape, Contemporary Balkan Art Gallery, Lemnos (curated by Iris Kritikou)
  • 2009 The Perspective Of Time. Pictorial Histories Paintings From The Sotiris Felios Collection, Benaki Museum, Athens (curated by Irene Orati)
  • 2007 Facets of the Figure, Markings of the Landscape: Greek Painters from the Antonis & Azia Hatziioannou Collection, Municipal Gallery, Hania, Crete (curated by Iris Kritikou)
  • 2007 Vessels of Life, Xenios Zeus Motel, Ancient Olympia
  • 2007 Greek Painters from the National Bank of Greece Collection, National Gallery-Alexandros Soutsos Museum, Athens (curated byOlga Mentzafou-Polyzou)
  • 2006 Reflections from Greece, The National Arts Club, New York (curator Katerina Koskina)
  • 2006 The Scarecrow, Averoff Museum, Metsovo (curated by Olga Danilopoulou, Nico de Oliveira, Nicholas Oxley)
  • 2005 Front Page Art: 59 Artists Create for the “Athens Voice”, Benaki Museum, Athens
  • 2005 Sacred and Profane. Aspects of Women in Contemporary Greek Painting, Municipal Gallery of Hania, Crete (curated by Haris Kambouridis)
  • 2004 Human Geography I, Frissiras Museum, Athens
  • 2004 Encomium to the Olive Tree, Athens Academy, Athens (curated by Louisa Karapidaki)
  • 2004 Tribute to Gysis, Exhibitions House, Falatados, Tinos (curated by Nikos Xydakis)
  • 2004 Agonon Polis, Technopolis-Municipality of Athens, Athens (curated byAthena Schina)
  • 2004 Near Likeness: Versions of a Portrait of Antonis Benakis, Benaki Museum, Athens (curated by Thanassis Moutsopoulos)
  • 2002-03 Sketching out Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday: Young Greek Artists: Tribute to the Region of Yannena, Averoff Museum, Metsovo (2002), Technopolis-Municipality of Athens, Athens (2003) (curated by Lina Tsikouta-Deimezi)
  • 2003 I, Myself, Rethymnon Visual Arts Center, Rethymnon, Crete (curated byEleni Kipreos)
  • 2003 New Iconolatry: The Triumphant Return of Figurative Painting, Kapopoulos Gallery, Athens (organization Archives of Modern Greek Art)
  • 2002 Visions and Fetters: Prison Allegories in Greek Art 1922- 2002, Athens Municipal Art Center, Athens (curated by)
  • 2002 Hydra. Visual Impressions, Historical Archives-Hydra Museum, Hydra (curated by Irene Orati)
  • 2002 Man and Nature, Tzamia-Krystalla Gallery, Hania, Crete (curated by Peggy Kounenaki)
  • 2002 Greek Painters: The Collection of Christos Christofis, Triantafyllis House, Athens
  • 2002 People-Faces-Figures, Rethymnon Center for Contemporary Art (curated by Maria Maragou)
  • 2002 Artists who Painted the Aegean and its History and the New Collection of the Ministry of the Aegean, Ministry of the Aegean, Mytilene, Lesbos
  • 2002 30 Years and ...: The Giorgos and Manti Diamantis Collection, Municipal Gallery of Thessaloniki
  • 2001 Quests and Formulations by Greek Artists from 1950 to 2000. Works from the Collection of the Rethymnon Center for Contemporary Art, The Art Center (Barry Raison Storehouses), Patras (curated by Maria Maragou)
  • 2001 The Myth of the Woman in Contemporary Greek Painting 1930-2001, Andros Museum of Contemporary Art-Vassilis & Eliza Goulandris Foundation, Andros (curated by Haris Kambouridis)
  • 2001 Figurazione Europea, Galleria Forni, Milan (curated by Alessandro Riva)
  • 2000 2000 Tins, Pireos Street Lithography Studio, Athens (curated by Alexis Veroukas, Niki Nikonanou, Nikos Stefanou)
  • 2000 Oinousses 2000. Contemporary Greek Painting: The C. Christofis Collection, Marine High School, Oinousses
  • 2000 Art Athina 8, Athens (with Medusa Gallery)
  • 1999 The Ioannis Kynigopoulos Collection: Greek Paintings in Syros, Ermopolis Art Gallery, Syros (curated by Takis Mavrotas)
  • 1999 Modern Greek Painting: The Giorgos Kitis Collection, Yeni Tzami, Thessaloniki (curated by Angeliki Sachini)
  • 1998 Greek Landscape Painting from the 19th-20th Centuries, National Gallery-Alexandros Soutsos Museum (curated by Angela Tamvaki)
  • 1998 Contemporary Greek Art from the Leonidas Beltsios Collection, Center for Contemporary Art, Larissa (curated by Dora Iliopoulou- Rogan)
  • 1997 Painting the Poetry of Odysseus Elytis, Odysseus Elytis Municipal Gallery, Athens
  • 1997 Ten Greek Figurative Painters from the Collection of the Kouvoutsakis Art Institute, Knokke Casino, Galerie Jan de Maere, Belgium and the Thessaloniki Municipal Gallery (curated by Thalia Stefanidou, in conjunction with Thessaloniki Cultural Capital of Europe 1997)
  • 1997 Focuses of the Gaze, Contemporary Art Center, Larissa (curated by Athena Schina)
  • 1997 The Face of an Industrial Landscape, VIS Factory, Athens (curated by Flavia Nessi, Iris Kritikou)
  • 1996 Contemporary Greek Painting: Kostas Ioannidis Collection, Amfissa Municipal Cultural Center, Amfissa (curated by Dora Iliopoulou- Rogan)
  • 1996 Drawings, Kouvoutsakis Gallery, Kifissia
  • 1996 Tribute to Periclis Pantazis, Averoff Museum, Metsovo (curated by Olga Mentzafou-Polyzou)
  • 1996 Masters and Students. A Proposal for Reading, Astrolavos Gallery, Athens, Metamorphosis Gallery, Thessaloniki (curated by Manos Stefanidis)
  • 1996 Homage to Paul Verlaine, French Institute of Piraeus, Gallery 24, Athens
  • 1995 Grands et Jeunes d’Aujourd’hui, Grand Palais, Paris
  • 1994 Exercises in Homeland Education, National Gallery-Alexandros Soutsos Museum – Corfu Annex, Corfu (curated by Manos Stefanidis)
  • 1994 Contemporary Greek Painting: Kostas Ioannidis Collection, Municipal Gallery of Rhodes (curated by Lina Tsikouta)
  • 1993 Grands et Jeunes d’Aujourd’hui, Grand Palais, Paris
  • 1993 Young Greek Painters, Art and Concert Hall, Hydra
  • 1992 Jeune Présence Grecque, Galerie Flak, Paris
  • 1992 Contemporary Greek Artists, European Cultural Center, Delphi (curated by Pierides Museum)
  • 1991 23ème Festival International de la Peinture, Château Musée de Cagnes-sur-Mer, France
  • Graduates of the Athens School of Fine Arts ’89 - ’90, Stratis Eleftheriadis (Tériade) Museum, Mytilene, Lesbos.
  • 1991 Germinations 6, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany
  • 1991-4 Contemporary Greek Painting. Vlassis Frissiras Collection, Pierides Museum, Glyfada (1991); Athens Municipal Cultural Centre, Athens; Municipal Gallery, Rhodes; Art and Concert Hall, Hydra (1992); Byzantine Museum, Zante (1993); Neoria, Hania Crete; Yeni Tsami and Vellideion Cultural Center, Thessaloniki Port Authority, Thessaloniki (1994) (curated by Takis Mavrotas)
  • 1990 Vers un Nouvel Humanisme: Jeunes Peintres Grecs à Paris, Espace des Esselières, Ville de Villejuif, Paris (curated by Marina Lambraki-Plaka)
  • 1989 17+1, Medusa Art Gallery, Athens
  • 1988 Encounters – Pinpointing – Juxtapositions, Athens Municipal Gallery (curated by Kostas Stavropoulos)
  • 1987 Panhellenic Exhibition, Port of Piraeus Exhibition Center (OLP), Piraeus
  • 1986 Contemporary Greek Painting, Andros Museum of Contemporary Art, Vassilis & Eliza Goulandris Foundation, Andros
  • 1984 International Association of Art Critics (AICA) International Conference, European Cultural Center, Delphi.

Figure and Space in Giorgos Rorris’ Painting

The Sotiris Felios collection provides us with an opportunity to see works painted by Giorgos Rorris from 1994 on. It contains representative works from different periods, constituting valuable testimony to the artist’s development. The main characteristic of the collection as a whole is its human-centredness, which is the common denominator of this particular painter’s work. The human figure is the focal point of his painting, with the exception of the period between 1993 and 1996. But even in paintings of this period, it was present in an indirect and elliptical way. In Deux orangers, the poles and electric wires that intersect the space testify to human intervention. In urban landscapes more generally, the human presence becomes perceptible as withdrawal, and Floretta looks abandoned, with the walls and stairs showing signs of wear. Man is present through his absence. In the artist’s last urban landscapes, remote figures of workers on construction sites mark the discreet re-appearance of the human figure. In the fall of ’97, Rorris painted his first portrait, Takis Pitselas, which represents a break. In it, the artist discovered how to light the model with neutral harsh lighting. From this point on, the human figure is absolutely dominant in his work.

Human-centredness finds its highest expression in the large-scale portraits of women who are “dressed in their nudity”, as he himself says. Elisabeth, Yanna and Blue Alexandra are not nudes in the formal sense of the word, but portraits of nude women that do not conform to the logic of the nude study. Rorris creates persons with names and identities, present in flesh and blood. Portraiture inevitably raises the issue of imitation. The artist is not seeking to copy a given reality, but to achieve a similarity with the person who is “playing himself”. Because what is at stake here is one’s identity with oneself, unmediated by other identifications. The portrait must capture the enigmatic indeterminacy of this kind of identity as it takes form in the studio; its concern is to represent accurately the unprecedented reality that the presence of the model introduces.

The studio is a potential context that can only be activated by the living presence of the model. Without this presence, it remains an empty shell in expectation. Every nude woman, through the pose she adopts and the aura she radiates, stamps a personal affective tone on the space around her. In Blue Alexandra, something of the melancholy exuded by the model is reflected in the watery blue ground. The presence of the model influences equally the structure of the pictorial space. In Yanna, the edge of the floor on the left side of the painting does not follow a straight line, but curves slightly, in this way guiding the viewer’s gaze to the corner where the model is sitting. In a number of works, the ledge in the middle of the wall is moved up to leave the field open for the model. In Blue Alexandra, the line of the wainscoting is zigzag. The obvious lack of correspondence between her right and left sides creates the feeling that Alexandra is on sloping ground. In this way, the model appears to be close to the viewer, although she is at the same time far away, in a reverie of which the inner landscape remains inaccessible. Alexandra is near us and simultaneously elsewhere.

Elisabeth was painted in August of 2002: it is one of the artist’s first portraits of nude women. The comparison of this painting with Yanna allows us to ponder the evolution of Rorris’s work. In Elisabeth, the space looks familiar, the sole enigmatic element being the woman’s nudity, which lends an unrealistic tone to the painting. A lady, made up and bedecked with jewellery, is sitting naked on the couch. What has immobilised her there? Does she perhaps inhabit a time of waiting? Could she have been forgotten in an expectation that she knew in advance would prove to be in vain? Rorris says that the woman’s immobility gives the impression that she has been riveted in the same position for years. Elisabeth is looking to the left, towards a point outside the field. In the case of Yanna, the sense of immobilized time is offset by the intensity of the gaze that calls out for us. With her gaze, Yanna imposes the present tense of her presence.

Elisabeth initially started out as a medium-sized portrait of a clothed woman, which then evolved into a nude portrait in an expanded space. It is a work in which the transition has been made possible from full-length portraits to portraits of nude women. At the same time, there is a differentiation here from nude studies. It is typical that, in the dazzling Torso and in Homage to Courbet, the face of the model is outside the field. On the contrary, in Elisabeth, Yanna and Blue Alexandra, the nude bodies have a name and a face; in this way they constitute a singular presence. Therefore, the name becomes acclaimed as a title.

Lambrini, which Rorris began in October 2002, immediately after Elisabeth, makes the change in his work more obvious: here the body occupies the greatest part of the painting and is turned toward the viewer. She is not merely within the space, but imposes her own law on it. In Yanna, Lambrini and Blue Alexandra, what is happening in the painting affects us. The model, with her gaze or the intensity of her presence, calls out for us. In Elisabeth, on the contrary, the viewer has the feeling of being present at a scene in which he is not necessarily involved, although this does not preclude the opening of the space towards the viewer.

The lateral expansion of the pictorial space had already been achieved in the Portrait of Dimitra Apalodima (1997), which inaugurates the multiple composition of the painting through the successive addition of farther frames. Elisabeth introduces her nude body into the expanded spatial dimension. More generally, the opening of the space functions as a call to the viewer to enter it and appropriate it. The placement of the couch and chest of drawers on the side, however, creates a dynamic that leans to the left and suggests the idea that the scene depicted does not necessarily address us. On the contrary, in Yanna, her gaze calls out to us in a direct and frontal manner. Its calling power is in fact intensified by the pudendal crease and by the gaze of the elderly island woman whose photograph is hanging on the wall. If we compare Blue Alexandra and Yanna with the nudes of Rorris’s Paris period (Difficult pose, Nude study), it is obvious that we are making the transition from fluid, almost de-materialised bodies to the material density of flesh-and-blood bodies, from the distant to the close, from the body as an object of observation to the body as a face that observes, from the small size to the almost life size. Bodies acquire gravity and volume that lend them “bodily conviction”.

In the small and medium-sized portraits of 1997-2000, Rorris was studying the relationship between the face and a relatively uniform chromatic ground. In Maria Frantzi and Study for a Portrait, the figure ground relationship is not mediated by spatial coordinates. They are clearly incorporated into the work when the painting is expanded by the successive addition of multiple frames. Parallel to the large scale portraits, Rorris paints studies of nudes. In works like Torso or Sleep, the brightness of the flesh is highlighted in contrast to a dark ground, which lends the nude additional sensuality. It is worth noting that here, as in the small portraits, the background from which the figure stands out is flat, or at least appears to be.

The spark that produced the change in Rorris’s work was the creation of an expanded space around a full-length, initially clothed, figure. In the spatial layout of the portraits that consist of multiple frames, a nude eponymous body, endowed with a face and an identity, made an initially shy appearance: Elisabeth. The space has already been differentiated from the vague ground: three-dimensional substance has been gained as a function of the full-length clothed figure. The presence of a nude woman adds further geometric depth to the expanded composition. Space with depth and a nude portrait with bodily conviction are interrelated. The corner in particular proves to be the pre-eminent constructional principle of the space, which had already been done in previous works, but to a perceptibly smaller degree. For the artist, the corner is the backbone of the pictorial space, its organisational axis. This can be seen in Elisabeth, where the presence of the corner is, however, offset by the recessed window behind the couch. On the contrary, in Yanna, the corner plays a decisive role: it hollows the space at the back and guides the gaze towards the model. In the architectural opening of the space that characterises the nude portraits, the gaze of the viewer that is guided toward the corner meets the model, who is either seated there or standing between it and the point of view. The plane of the painting intersects the space being represented in a diagonal line, intensifying the sense of depth, and allowing the viewer to inhabit the painting from within.

The gradual stripping of the space makes the role of the corner more evident. In Elisabeth, the space remains highly charged, in contrast to Yanna where the only obvious punctuation is provided by the charger, together with the sockets and wires that suggest the conditions required for a painting to exist, i.e. lighting from spotlights. We are in a special place with its own laws, in the artist’s studio. The few objects scattered around do not function in an explanatory way. They are silent witnesses to the scene being portrayed: their presence not only does not eliminate the enigmatic density of the work, but intensifies it. Something similar is happening in Blue Alexandra as well: a nude woman is sitting in a space stripped of narrative associations, containing only artistic allusions. [1] Here we can see the evolution towards unconditional nudity, free of anecdotal connotations. On the other hand, in Sleep, the black skirt partially masks the body and functions as a counterpoint to the glossy brightness of the back. The skirt introduces a band of opacity alluding to the unseen aspects of the female body. The work emits a delicate eroticism, and the plastic rendering of the body borders on perfection. Does Sleep perhaps prefigure a new turn in Rorris’s work?

Vicky Skoumbi
1. For a more thorough analysis, allow me to refer to my article “Portraits of Nude Women” (in the journal αληthεια, No. 3, Spring 2008).