Fotis Kontoglou, 1895-1965

Fotis Kontoglou was born in 1895 in Aivali of Asia Minor. His surname was Apostolelis. His mother Despoina Kontoglou and her brother Stefanos Kontoglou, who used to be the abbot of the family monastery of Aghia Paraskevi, brought him up. In this monastery, close to the sea and its people, he lived his childhood and due to his great love for the sea, at the beginning he wanted to be a captain.

In 1913 his uncle Stefanos registers Fotis in the School of Fine Arts in Athens, which he leaves in 1915 to travel to France, Spain, Portugal, Angola and elsewhere.

He settles in Paris where he gets an award for the illustration he made for Knout Hamsoun's ''Hunger''. He writes and illustrates his book ''Pedro Kazas'' and he becomes well known .

He comes back to Greece after the Asia Minor disaster, and in 1923 he visits Athos Monasteries for the first time where he studies the Byzantine hagiography, which becomes the dominating characteristic of his painting.

In 1925 he gets married with Maria Hatzikambouri from his native town Aivali and, together with his apprentices Yannis Tsarouchis and N.Engonopoulos, he paints the walls of his house creating a wonderful fresco in the front room of his house (now in the National Art Gallery in Athens).

In 1933 the Egyptian Government invites him to work at the Coptic Museum. He gets employed in the Athens College as a painting professor, having famous personalities among his students.

In the coming years he cleans the Perivleptos Church in Mystras wall paintings, he creates the holy hagiographies for many churches among which the beautiful Kapnikarea in the center of Athens, and he undertakes the monumental wall painting of the Athenian Municipality where the ''uniformity of the race'' is depicted, from the Greek Patriarchs until the 19th century.

He translates a Moliero's play, which will be played next year by the National Theater and he makes the portrait of Hatzi Ousta Iordanoglou and his son Homer.

Together with his paintings and his writings, he publishes more than 3000 studies and articles, fighting for the eternal values of the Orthodoxy and the Greek Tradition. For his diligence he is awarded the Cross of the Commander of the Phoenix. Also, for his famous book ''Ekfrassis of the Orthodox Iconography'' (Expression) he was awarded a prize from the Athens Academy and for the totality of his exceptional work the Athens Academy awards him the Distinction of Letters and Arts. On July 13th, 1965, he dies, in Athens at his 70's.

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