Memas Kalogiratos was born in 1940 in the village of Petrikata in Kefalonia. His parental house was burnt down during the Occupation and so he moved with his family to Patras, where he completed school. In 1957 he met and became a student of the iconographer and painter Georgios Papadimitriou, who signed under the pseudonym “Phaon”. Phaon has an academic education and his iconographic style follows the Western tradition.
Kalogiratos then came to Athens and studied sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts from 1960 to 1966, winning distinctions. He initially attended the 1st sculpture workshop directed by the director of the school and academic Giannis Pappas (1913-2005), an artist who combined an experimental, entrepreneurial sculpture with the large orders of the country’s upper class. But once the 2nd workshop was founded in 1961 and taken over by Thanasis Apartis (1899-1972), Memas did not hesitate to follow him, appreciating both his Parisian activity and recognition, and his exceptional character.
The young artist’s first artistic appearance took place in 1965 with a solo exhibition at the Municipal Gallery of Patras while he was still a student. At the same time, living the specificity and struggles of his time, he participated in the student struggles of 114, expecting a democratic or independent Greece. The dictatorship, shortly afterwards, will cause him a great mental trauma, as well as the intensity of the Cold War, the war in Vietnam and the dramatic reversal of all those predictions that spoke of peace, disarmament and global prosperity. For reasons of survival and without giving up sculpture, he worked part-time as a laborer, a copper sculptor, and an assistant for the erection of sculpture monuments. Among other things, he helped his teacher, Apartis, to erect the huge statue of Chrysostomos of Smyrna in the square of Nea Smyrni.
Later he was an assistant and collaborator of Christos Kapralos, an artist who influenced him deeply both for his aesthetic proposal and for his uncompromising ethos. Dynamic and uncompromising himself, he attempted to present his work in solo exhibitions, which happened in 1970 at the Ora exhibition center in 1971, at the Studio gallery in 1973, at the Aretousa Hotel, and at the Dada Gallery in Pagrati in 1981, after the regime change. His participations in group exhibitions at that time are numerous in Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as in the Skironio Museum of Sculpture, in Larissa, etc. or the events-interferences of the Sculptors’ Association (Athens Conservatory) and the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece. At the same time he participated in sculpture competitions for the erection of monuments. In the 1970s we see frequent references and reviews of his work, sometimes in the prestigious magazine of the time “Zygos” published by Frantzis Frantzeskakis, and sometimes in the art review of the newspaper “Rizospastis” signed by the well-known art critic and collaborator of Tony Spiteris, Nikos Alexiou.
The solo exhibitions he organized in 1985 at the Cultural Centre of the village of Kourkoumelata in Kefalonia in 1987, at the philharmonic hall of Argostoli in 1995, at the “Enstasis” gallery in Athens and the art gallery of Psychiko in the same year are considered important. Finally, in 1998 and 2001 he exhibited at the well-known Ersi’s gallery, in Dexameni, Kolonaki. In 2003, 2004 and 2008 he exhibited at the “Polytropon” gallery, in the castle of Agios Georgios in Kefalonia.
In 2015, the very careful study by Professor Dora F. Markatou “Glyptotheque of Memas Kalogiratos” was published in Argostoli. In this publication, Stalina Voutsina wrote a detailed catalogue and bibliography, while the postface contains texts dedicated to the sculptor, signed by Petros Petratos, philologist, Dionysis Georgopoulos, the art critic Nikos Alexiou and Eva Delavinia. In 2022, the Patras-based Foundation for the Hellenic Diaspora funded an excellent film dedicated to the overall work of Kalogiratos, directed by Giannis Katomeris.