The dancers of Ghiorgo Zafiropulo attempt to represent the dynamics of movement, and thus, in addition to the three dimensional space of the subject, the fourth dimension, that of time, fascinates him. So he named them in most cases by the academic name of the movement and not by the names of the prestigious artists who perform. These are easily identifiable for the discerning connoisseur both by their anatomy and the expressiveness of their attitudes. The works of art reveal excellent technical mastery that allows the artist to express his outstanding modelling powers. The modelling displays the structural finesse of the anatomy, the muscular tension and more subtle concepts such as spirituality. By varying the type of finish, depending on the type of work, such things can be represented in a single piece.
Ghiorgo Zafiropulo was particularly impressed by the quality of the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet led by the very talented dancer, teacher and choreograph George Balanchine.
His early sculptures of dancers start in 1963 with masculine figures from these ballet companies. First George Balanchine, in honour of his school, in "Attitude Classique" and its sequel André Prokovsky, from the same school in "Sur le Coup de Pied".
Following this in 1965 and 1966 he produced two sculptures of Kay Mazzo and Mimi Paul of the New York City ballet: "Die Lanserin" and "La Lillabella".
Subsequently the years 1966 and 1967 were particularly productive. It was mostly Russian dancers of the Kirov and Bolschoi Ballets who inspired him. He produced works mounted on plexiglas, spectacular and elegant leaps of Yuri Soloviev, Nora Kovach and Rudolf Nureyev defying the laws of gravity. He also produced a "pas de deux" inspired by Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev, stars of the Bolschoi. Another sculpture "Manège", with structure close to that of a Degas, the model is Yuri Vladimorov, a further piece "Pas de Bourée" was again inspired by the talented Nora Kovach.
In 1967, 1968 and 1969 he sculpted three "pas de deux" from different ballet companies; "After Eden" represents Adam and Eve on their expulsion from Paradise, portrayed by Lone Isaksen and Lawrence Rhodes of the Harkness Ballet. This work introduced spatial representation combined with lyrical expression of spirituality. This was followed in 1968 by the second "pas de deux", "L'Homme et son Ame" inspired by a work of Bach. In 1969 he produced a third "pas de deux" , "Paradis Perdu" representing Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, the same subject of Adam and Eve. These three works, at the summit of his art, are linked to his religious works. They also echo his classical education with the great masters of sculpture whose iconography was essentially biblical or mythological.
In 1992, after a long period of reflection he resumed sculpture and attempted a "pas de trois" an imaginagy ballet position he had always dreamt of achieving.
Testimony by Lawrence Rhodes
I received an email on October 1st, 2013 from a person unknown to me who turned out to be Marina Lafon. She was writing to tell me Ghiorgo Zafiropulo, a great sculptor, has created a statue of my wife, Lone Isaksen, and me taken from a performance of John Butler’s After Eden. I was thrilled to imagine that there was another beautiful memory of my wife, that particular ballet, and that time in our lives. I was even happier when Ms. Lafon shared with me a photograph of this wonderful statue. The period that my wife and I spent with John Butler creating After Eden is one of the highlights of my professional dance career. It was a very intense and personal time for interaction with this remarkable choreographer and surely increased the intimacy with my future wife. The premiere in Cannes 1966 was a very great success and we went on to dance this terrific pas de deux all over Europe and the U.S. It was always met with great enthusiasm and, I must say, that even today there are people I meet who have very strong memories of our performance, for which I am very grateful. Seeing the work of Zafiropulo has made me appreciate the beauty of After Eden all over again. The statue depicts an unusual image from the ballet which Mr. Zafiropulo created from a famous photograph. It should be noted that John Butler was a choreographer well known for his duet work that included many “sculptural” poses!So it has been wonderful to discover the work of Ghiorgo Zafiropulo. He has surely captured the weight and gravity of dance as well as the beautiful, aesthetic body lines generated by dancers. You can sense the movement in his sculpture. I am very happy to be a part of this special exhibition of the great work of Ghiorgo Zafiropulo and hope that you enjoy all of the great work inspired by important artists from the world of dance.It is my pleasure to make my discovery yours.
Artistic Director, Julliard Academy