DIMITRIS GAVALAS (Greece, Tinos Island 1940-1998 / act: Athens)

Dimitris Gavalas Dimitris Gavalas was born o n 21 April 1940 at the village Platia of Tinos Island and died on 27 October 1998 in Athens. He studied and graduated from the School of Fine Arts of Tinos taking lessons in painting with Daniil Alexandrou and in sculpture with Vassilis Paraschos. He furthered his studies in Athens, first at Sivitanidios Public School of Trades & Vocations and then at the Athens School of Fine Arts - ASFA, where he specialized in bronze casting, lathe and plasterwork.

In 1959 while serving the army as soldier he met with the then major and sculptor Petros Moraitis (1913-) , who created the artistic workshop of bronze casting of the Army General Staff - GES. When the workshop was established, GES commissioned the famous Italian artist Bruno Bearzi (1894-1983) to set the foundations for the revival of the ancient Greek art of bronze casting. To his support came the sculptor Petros Moraitis and Dimitris Gavalas as his assistant. In 1962 he founded in Maroussi his art foundry, where Greek sculptors had for the first time the possibility of casting their work in Greece.

Gavalas gave his life and soul to the foundry. He was a practical man who dared to experiment. He spent hours and days of continuous hard work casting works of such sculptors as: Thanassis Apartis, Lukia Georgandi-Economopoulou, Georgios Kastriotis, Lazaros Lameras, Yannis Pappas, Irene Pramantiotou-Chariati, Antonios Sochos, Michail Tombros, Dimitrios Falireas, Titsa Chrisochoïdis, George Zongolopoulos, and many younger Greek artists. He gained experience and worked under the influence of a positive force, which enabled him to make perfect use of fire and metal. It is he who first abolished the use of firewood for the process of the lost wax, replacing it with the use of LPG. He was also the first to use petrol for the melting of the metal during casting. Improving the quality of castings and speeding the process of casting works of Greek sculptors such as Nico Hadjikyriaco Ghika, Aggelika Korovessi Thanassis Moustakas, Aspasia Papadoperaki, Yannis Parmakelis, Thodoros Papayannis, Theodore Papadimitriou, Manolis Tzombanakis, Athena Chatzi as well as foreigners, which adorn sites in Greece and abroad.

In 1971 he took part in the 11th Pan-Hellenic Art Exhibition, whence a decision of the Minister of Culture & Science his work entitled Metamorfosis № 1 was purchased by the state. On 18 September 1989, at his foundry, the Americans and Soviets melted a metal alloy of their military missiles, in the presence of Mr. Kozlovski and cultural attaché Linzi Houver of the American Embassy, and Yuri Stoutemikin and Noble Giourkov respectively from the Soviet Embassy. With this alloy were cast two shields and a statuette of Peace, which was sent into space. In 1996 he received an award from the Association of Sculptors of Greece for his lengthy service to the art of sculpture. In 1997 he donated to Melina Mercouri Foundation the casting of the Bust of Melina Mercouri created by Aggelika Korovessi. Periodically he used to offer his workshop to produce documentaries about sculpture and artistic casting, such as Demosthenes Lykoudis and others. He was also fortunate enough to see his students, who learned the art of artistic casting next to him, establish a career. From his works stand out his self-portrait bust at Platia Cemetery in Tinos (1998), the busts of Eleftherios Venizelos in Nea Makri and Chalkis, Pavlos Vardinoyiannis in Sfakia, Kossyvaki in Arta, as well as the monuments of Youth at Lyxouri of Kefalonia and the monument to the fallen at Kiourka. During the last five years of his life (1993-1998) he created a series of works entitled The Contingency of Creation (a name given by his wife Margaret following his passing, because it was contingent that Gavalas that would achieve such production), his last contribution to the Greek art scene. Today , the foundry partners of Gavala Art Foundry are the most famous and creative sculptors of our country such as Helen Vasalos, George Georgiou, Nikolaos Dogoulis, Paleologos Theologou, Efthymios Kalevras, Mara Karetsos, Aggelika Korovessi, Stavros Kotsireas, Yannis Moralis, Yannis Bardis, Vassiliki Benopoulou, Yannis Parmakelis, Christos Sarakatsianos, Leonidas N. Tzavaras, etc. artists whose works adorn museums, streets, squares and galleries all over Greece.

[Megakles Rogakos 04/2009]

[Megakles Rogakos 02/2009]