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Τhe Early Years

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   The Defender (1948) 

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The Monumental Works Child of the Occupation, Defender and El Greco 

 

At the 1945 Parnassos Exhibition, Sofialakis was privileged to meet the great Cretan author, Nikos Kazantzakis, who was so impressed with the artist that he visited his atelier twice.

I entrust to you my two ideas, that you might write them out in marble – the ‘Enslaved Greek Child’ and the ‘Execution Pole of Agia’”, Kazantzakis told the artist upon his second visit to his atelier, during which he commissioned Sofialakis for the two monumental works.[4]

“ […] The pole of Agia was a large oak where the Germans tied their hostages and executed them one by one. Most of the shots are at heart level, so the wood is close to snapping there. […] This second one [idea] is my Christ and my God; 480 Cretans perished on it, taken as hostages from the fields. Can you make it so that freedom breaks free from this pole? Do it, and I will set the work at my own expense.”[5]

Sofialakis ‘penned in marble’ both works, the Child of the Occupation and the Defender (the Execution Pole of Agia), which would become two of his greatest compositions and emblematic visions of the Greek post-war era.

Portrait of the Artist (1945)

Head, Youth (1940)

Nikos Sofialakis was born in Erfous, Rethymnon, Crete, Greece in 1914 and died in Athens, Greece in 2002. At the age of ten he came to Athens and from 1925–1937 he apprenticed under the neoclassical sculptor Georgios Bonanos.[1]  He continued his training with a scholarship from the Athina Stathatou Legacy Foundation, (without which he would not have been able to study during the German occupation of Greece in WWII), entering the Athens School of Fine Arts in 1938, where he studied under the sculptor and Professor Michalis Tombros. During the course of his studies he received four recognitions and two first place awards.[2]


Sofialakis began charting his artistic course while still a student at the Athens School of Fine Arts, participating in the 1940 Pan-Hellenic Artists Exhibition at the Zappeion with his plaster study
Head of Youth, and taking part in various other group exhibitions, such as the ‘Professional’ Exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens (with contemporaries Efthymiades, Kefallinos, Nicolas, Katraki, et al.), the Parnassos Exhibitions of 1944, 1945, 1946 and the French Academy Exhibition of 1946 among others.[3]



In his final year at the Athens School of Fine Arts, Sofialakis won the 1944 First Prize in Sculpture with his diploma presentation Maternity, a terracotta study of a mother nursing her child in miniature size. 

  Child of the Occupation (1948) 

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Maternity

Study in terracotta (1944)

1st Prize in Sculpture

Athens School of Fine Arts

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