Greek artist George Gounaropoulos was born in Sozopol in Eastern Rumelia in the year 1889. A member of a large family (twelve children), he came to Athens in 1906 and enrolled in the design department of the School of Fine Arts, studying perspective and scenography with instructor V. Bokatsiambi and painting under S. Vikato, D. Geranioti, C. Roilo and C. Iakovidi. The effect of these academic painters of the ‘Munich School’ is evident in Gounaropoulos early works. From the beginning of the Balkan wars until the end of the First World War, Gounaropoulos repeatedly served in the Greek Army. At that time, he painted military portraits and scenes of war and melee, like many other artists of the time. In 1919, he went to Paris after winning a Averof Scholarship, completing his artistic study at the Julian Academy and the Grand Chaumiere Academy.
Gounaropoulos had a unique style, all his own. The Parisian artistic scene of the early 20th Century caused him to reject the academic style of painting – as well as impressionism as a whole – and shape his own, purely personal, technique which is not easily categorized. His paintings are transcendental: disembodied forms designed with a few basic lines appear lost in a dreamy haze of colours ranging from azure, sunset yellow-reds to violet. In his pieces, female figures, trees, still life featuring fish and shellfish meld into strange, poetic visions. Even his portraits, finished in charcoal or pencil, have a fleeting dream-like quality.
George Gounaropoulos, Kneeling Woman, ca 1925, Pencil on paper, 34 x 21 cm