Minos Argyrakis

Argyrakis Minos
© Maria Argyraki‎ Archive

He was born in Aidini of Asia Minor in 1919 and died in Athens in 1998. In 1922 he fled to Vyronas as a refugee, along with his mother, his grandmother and his brother. He studied at the Athens School of Business, and took painting lessons from Yannis Tsarouchis. At the same time, he published articles and sketches in contemporary newspapers and magazines (“Elliniki Dimiourgia”, “Eleftheria”, and later “Avgi” and “Kathimerini”). He was a member of the “Armos” art group from 1949 to 1953. In 1953, he left for London, where he worked as a journalist for the BBC. He designed the sets and costumes for numerous films for the cinema and television, opera and theatre productions, most notably the musical show “Odos Oneiron” [Street of Dreams] by Manos Hadjidakis, in 1962, which was based on his publication of the same name, containing sketches from the 1948-1957 period. In 1964 he created, along with Yannis Tsarouchis and Evgenios Spatharis, the experimental art venue “Amy’s Ark”, in Plaka, Athens. He directed and acted in several plays and movies. With intervening periods of staying in Greece, he travelled and lived in various countries (U.S.A., Cyprus, England, France, Denmark, Spain, Sri Lanka), often collaborating with the local press and presenting his work as a painter. In the mid-1970s, he settled in Athens permanently. He published his articles and drawings in various monographs, and illustrated poetry collections, school books and other publications.


Solo Exhibitions


Minos Argyrakis: A Bohemian Traveller The Pulse Athens


The World of Dreams Ellinogermaniki Agogi Athens


Diana-Yiulia Gallery Athens


Athens Centre Athens


Evgeni Gallery Athens


Yanni Statha Gallery Athens


Athens Art Gallery Athens


Odense Museum Odense


Walton Gallery London


Athens, My Love Zygos Art Gallery Athens


Nécropsie cantabile Librairie anglaise Paris


Galerie Iris Clert Paris


Monica Payne Gallery Athens


Vima Gallery Athens


[…] I would say that Minos is an unusual artist, who has affinities with various things, but whom you cannot absolutely class in one category or another. He has a personality very much his own, and that personality touches upon the poetic, the satirical, the expressionist, the surrealistic… In any case, the general sense is very strong, of an aesthetic and aestheticized sensuality in his poetic works; a strong sense of realism and caricature in his satirical works. There are great contrasts of this kind, which, however, all collide in his work.

[…] Minos had an acute awareness of serving Greekness despite the modernity. He added a side of Greekness, which is satirical on the one hand, poetic on the other. He also had an element of poetry, and a unique artistic style. He belongs, therefore, precisely at that same point where modernism meets Greekness, and creates a Greekness very different to that of the previous generation. His works bear some features that are symbolic, mythological. There is an alchemy, it is the alchemy of nature in Minos, who had no knowledge of alchemy as a science, but he had intuition. There are alchemical images – similar to the couple in the tree, the woman emerging from the earth –, the alchemy of the subconscious, very characteristic of the dream state.

The surrealist element that we can identify in Minos’s work does not make him a surrealist. Minos’s surrealism has nothing to do with the movement. It was a personal expression. Mythology, symbolism, modernism, surrealism, all of it exists together in Minos. Minos is unclassifiable. He cannot be placed anywhere, because he belongs everywhere and he created a strong personality.

His Greekness, in addition, extended to the roots of dionysianism, the idyllic element of the forest. Minos was a polygamist, a paganist. His depictions and his compositions lead him easily into the mythological. And the way he illustrated Embirikos, the myths of Embirikos, is very distinctive, and that sort of thing is very popular abroad. Alan Ross of “London Magazine” was very excited about Minos, and published a lot of Minos’s work. That demonstrates that he found some recognition outside of Greece.

All the movements that were created in Greece were hybrids. And Minos is such a hybrid, too: poetic, satirical, modernist, surrealist, a ‘dreamer’, who was always creating his own paradise. His vision was a paradise, which he sought through Greece and through his travels. […]


* Excerpts from Nanos Valaoritis’s article, published in whole in “Minos Argyrakis: The Artist’s Unknown Work”, Amy Mims-Silveridi (ed.), Ergo Publications, Athens, 2007.