Yannis Tsarouchis was a Greek painter. Born in Piraeus in 1910, Tsarouchis initially began his career as a stage and costume designer for the theatre. His enjoyment in his craft led Tsarouchis to enrol at the Athens School of Fine Arts, where he studied Byzantine iconography alongside his interests in architectural design and traditional dressing customs between the years of 1928 – 1934. Tsarouchis continued his personal artistic discovery after the more traditional studies had ended. He travelled widely, and visited great centres of art in France, Italy and Turkey where he was able to experience the art of the Renaissance and of Impressionism at first hand. The artist studied for a while in Paris alongside students who would later become renowned figures in the Surrealist and Expressionism movements. Upon his return to Greece, Tsarouchis began to produce work influenced by his travels which would culminate in his first solo exhibition in Athens in 1938.
His work explored the ancient Greek ideals and more contemporary sensual influences, a vision which would come to be shared by many as part of the 20th century Greek movement. Alongside several eminent countrymen, Tsarouchis helped to establish the Armos group in around 1949. Years of great success would soon follow. In 1951, the artist held exhibitions in Paris and London, before participating in the Venice Biennale as well as an exhibition at the Guggenheim, New York in 1958. Tsarouchis relocated to Paris in 1967 in response to the changing political climate in Greece. The artist had experienced strong criticism expressed by the Greek government in response to his frequent depiction of nude soldiers and sailors. In spite of the controversy his work garnered when first displayed publically, Tsarouchis is widely considered to have led the introduction of the Greek tradition in more contemporary painting alongside his continued success as a theatrical stage designer. The artist died in Athens in 1989. His work can be seen today in his eponymous museum in Athens.