Giannis Kefallinos (1894-1957)
Giannis Kefallinos was born in Alexandria from a bourgeois family from Cephalonia and Chios. Excellent student, he soon followed his artistic inclination, studied Art History and painting in France, where he lived for several years.
He settled in Greece in 1930, when he was elected as a professor at the School of Fine Arts one year later. He organized the Engraving Lab by perfecting this technique.
The art of the book was of great interest to him during his stay in France as well as in Greece, and he also collaborated with Hellenic Post (1950-54) by creating stamps that have received international distinctions.
He was never interested in showing his work, thus justifying the characterization “The Silent”, which P. Prevelakis gave him in his obituary. He accepted that only two completed works of his would be presented to the public: The Peacock (1946) and the Ten White Lecythi (1956).
Kefallinos’ relationship with his students was never typical: he was interested and cared for them like a father. His inherent goodness (the relatives called him “Kalogiannis” i.e. Good John) and the sense of solidarity and justice prompted him to defend the weak and the peace.
In 1954 he was elected Director of the Athens School of Fine Arts, a post he held until his death. Under his leadership, the School will show interest in and take a stand on issues of culture, liberty or human rights – issues that have always been of concern to him as he considered life as a primary value without ideological dogmatism: conscientious objection during the First World War and the Asia Minor Expedition of the Greek Army, he produced with his pupils the posters that encouraged the Greek people during the war of 1940 and supported the struggle of Cyprus against the English occupation.