The late Leonidas Kalamaras, celebrated sculptor and painter, is being commemorated in the Greek Australian Art Directory (GAAD) at the request of his family. His exceptional artistic journey earned him international acclaim, marked by a myriad of accolades and exhibitions in Greece and Australia.
Hailing from Florina, Greece, Leonidas was born in 1932. His move to Perth, Western Australia in 1950, marked a significant chapter in his life. Reuniting with his father, who had moved to Manjimup in 1924, Leonidas, alongside his wife Vasso and son Athanasios, played a pivotal role in tending to the land his father had purchased. Balancing his artistic passion with the demands of farm life, he continued to nurture his craft while providing for his growing family.
Dedicating a year to sculpture studies at the Athens School of Fine Arts and furthering his education at the School of Fine Arts in Perth, Leonidas obtained a Diploma in Sculpture. His career reached new heights when he assumed the role of Professor in the Sculpture Department at the Claremont School of Art in 1968, where he not only taught but also formulated and expanded the department’s curriculum until his retirement. A member of esteemed artistic bodies like the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece and the Greek Sculptures Association, he began receiving commissions in 1976.
The year 1980 marked a milestone with his inaugural solo exhibitions in Athens and Perth, setting the stage for national sponsorship from the Community Art Board Australia Council in 1981, leading to further exhibitions in Greece and Australia. From 1983 until 1996 he participated in the Gallery C.S.A Lectures Claremont School of Art and his accomplishments continued to flourish, culminating in an exhibition sponsored by the Department of Culture and Arts, Government of Western Australia, in Thessaloniki in 2004.
The impact of Leonidas’s exhibitions over the years has resonated deeply, prompting heartfelt reflections from esteemed admirers:
“One of our creative Greeks, who are dispersed throughout the world, is the sculptor and painter, Leonidas Kalamaras, who lives and works in Australia. One of the most distinguished, well known and remarkable contemporary artists, Kalamaras’ work is distinguished by the extent of its richness and the language of its moulding of form. Kalamaras never forgot his Hellenic origins, something that is demonstrated in his writing statements and research. Because the human figure is his defined theme, he uses figure-forming vocabulary, without sacrificing his aim of a visual reality which expresses the essential and the diachronic. What makes even more of an impression in Kalamaras’ artistic endeavours is his individualistic use of an expressionistic vocabulary which gives so much tone to his sculpture and painting.” (Crysanthos Christou, Academic and Professor Emeritus of Art History Greece, 1997)
“One of the most characteristic and important figures among our creators, among the Greek living abroad, distinguished for his love for the human element and his contemplation on basic artistic and human values. An excellent artist tracing out a long and very important route, gifted with versatile talent as regards modern Greek art, able to develop both aspects of artistic expression, sculpture and painting, with the same creative sensibility.” (Vasilis Papageorgopoulos, Mayor of Thessaloniki “Leonidas Kalamaras” Thessaloniki, Exhibition May 2004)
“His copper sculptures set off the human figure and embrace a series of posture, each one of which highlights the dignity of our human existence.” (Murray Mason, The West Australian, “Leonidas Kalamaras” Thessaloniki, Exhibition May 2004)
The Kalamaras family is steeped in artistic talent, with Leonidas’s brother also serving as a professor of Sculpture in Greece, and his sons, following in their father’s footsteps, excelling as sculptors and painters themselves. Constantinos, having practiced as an architect for years, now imparts knowledge as a lecturer at TAFE in Perth. Meanwhile, Vasso, Leonidas’s wife, a published writer, has accumulated numerous awards for her literary achievements.
To view the legacy of Leonidas Kalamaras, his distinctions, awards and publications, visit the GAAD (Greek Australian Artist Directory) at www.gacl.com.au and click on the dedicated GAAD section.
Initiated by the Greek Australian Cultural League (GACL), the GAAD was created to celebrate Greek Australian visual and performance artists, serving as a platform to showcase their artwork and contribution to the Australian arts landscape. By preserving and promoting the artistic legacy of Greek Australian artists, past and present, the GAAD ensures that their talents are duly acknowledged and cherished.
To date, numerous Greek-Australian artists have registered their profiles in the GAAD. However, the GAAD extends invitation to artists beyond the Greek-Australian community, encompassing artists with various backgrounds who draw inspiration from Greek culture. Artists interested in being part of the GAAD can register their profiles through the dedicated section on the GACL website (www.gacl.com.au). By participating, artists contribute to a collective celebration of artistic excellence and actively engage in the preservation of cultural identity and the appreciation of the historical significance of Greek-Australian art.
*Written by Vasy Petros. This is a Greek Australian Cultural League Initiative supported by The Greek Herald.