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MINOS ARGYRAKIS (Turkey, Smyrna 1920-1998 / act: Athens)

Minos Argyrakis Minos Argyrakis (Smyrna, 1920 - Athens, May 26, 1998) was a Greek painter, cartoonist and designer of theater.

He was born in Smyrna in 1920. During the Asia Minor Catastrophe, his father, who was a wealthy banker, fell victim of Turkish atrocities. Thus, at the age of one, Minos found refugee in Greece, along with his mother, Galatea, his grandmother and brother. With the care of Penelope Delta, he attended the Athens College at Psychiko. He tried twice to enroll at the Athens School of Fine Arts, but without success. He was forced to turned to the Athens University of Economics & Business - ASOEE (now Athens University of Economics).

He received painting lessons from Yannis Tsarouchis, who was a personal friend. He also claimed that he was a student of Theophilos Chatzimichael (1873-1934), Fotis Kontoglou (1896-1965) and Konstantinos Parthenis (1878-1967). He joined other well-known peers of his, such as Nikos Gatsos, George Mavroidis, Yannis Moralis, Nico Hadjikyriaco Ghika and Manos Hadjidakis.

In addition to painting he worked from very early on with drawing and journalism. During the Occupation, he joined the United Panhellenic Youth Organization - EPON and along with rebels reached the mountains Evrytania.

In 1948 and 1951, he showed work at the Panhellenic Exhibition of Painting and in 1957 he participated at the International Youth Festival in Moscow and the Drawing Biennial of Tolentino in Italy. At the same time he published text and cartoons in newspapers and magazines of his time (Avgi, Eleftheria, etc.).

In 1957 he published his first album with drawings and texts under the title "Odos Oneiron (Street of Dreams)". The album was a sharp, caustic, social satire of Greece in the 1950s, which contains many mythological elements, but is replete with intense lyricism. Fascinated by the album, Hadjidakis turned it into a musical satire, presented at the Metropolitan Theatre in Athens in 1962 with the collaboration of Minos (scenery, costumes, and lyrics of one song), the director Alexis Solomos and actor Dimitris Horn. With Hadjidakis he collaborated again in 1965 for the satire "World Tour".

In 1963, he presented an exhibition at Galerie Zygos, focusing on the invasion of foreigners (tourists or others) and social change in postwar Greece. In 1963, he became one of the founding members of Dimokratiki Neolaia Lambraki.

Just before the dictatorship, he created with his partner, Tsarouchis and Evgenios Spatharis, the "Ark of Amy", a pioneering space of artisitic experimentation, in Plaka, where various happenings of speech, music and dance were presented. The junta shut down the "Ark of Amy", for not having license for musical instruments, and Minos fled abroad; first to Spain, then London and finally Copenhagen, where he lived until 1974, as guest of the sculptor Takis. In Copenhagen, he published a second satirical album with drawings and text entitled "The State was Sailing for Melanolefkon".

When the junta fell, he returned to Greece. In 1975 he illustrated the English travel guide "Fodor's Greece". In 1981 he collaborated for the last time with Hadjidakis, creating scenery and costumes for the play "Pornografia". In 1984 he released his book "Travelling in Greece".

His health broke down in 1990 and since then ceased to paint and participate actively in life. In April 1997, he nursed at the Athens Rest Home. He died a year later, on 26 May 1998 at the age of 78 years, before seeing his retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery in October 1998. A large retrospective exhibition was hosted in 1999 at the George I. Katsigras Museum in Larissa. A total of 130 works were presented: drawings of the 40s, sketches from the books "World Tour", "Odos Oneiron", "The State was Sailing for Melanolefkon", posters of retrospective exhibitions and personal objects. Also, exhibited were a set four of his "Space" works, which he called "Erotic". Significant part of the exhibition were the stagesets from the "Odos Oneiron" by Manos Hatzidakis.

For Minos' work, Eleni Vakalo wrote: "Within the framework of Greekness, the first use of irony, from the '40s, we find in the cartoons of Minos Argyrakis. Minos, of course, works as a cartoonist. His repertory, however, references all the symbols of Greekness. He demystifies them jokingly of their prestige, but also transports them to the realm of dreams in "Odos Oneiron" of the Modern Greek [...]. Minos' achievement sets the turning point, which transfers us in such a short course in Greece, from experience to memory."

[Megakles Rogakos 12/2005]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
JOUFFROY, ALAIN Minos ou l';Humour de la Liberté 1987 Éditions Galilée [French - English - Greek]
ARGYRAKIS, MINOS Travelling in Greece 1984 Kastaniotis Editions, Athens [Greek]

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