George Vakalo (Γιώργος Βακαλό) was a Greek 20th-century surrealist painter, set designer, costume maker, writer and comic illustrator.

Early life
He was born George Vakalopoulos (Γιώργος Βακαλόπουλος) in either 1902 or 1904 in Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire (present-day Istanbul). He had his first art lessons in Constantinople under the guidance of Lysander Prasinos, who taught him miniature painting. After World War I, he went to Paris, France, where he studied painting and scenography at the École des Arts Decoratifs, the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Academie Julian.

Set designer
During the 1930s, he collaborated with the Hungarian scenic design artist Ladislas Medgyes and the French actor, theater manager and director Charles Dullin for stage groups like the Théâtre de l'Atelier and the Compagnie des Quinze. The German invasion in 1940 forced Vakalo to flee to Greece, where he worked as a set designer for famous directors in many domestic theaters. Between 1948 and 1988, he designed costumes for the performances of the Greek National Lyric Scene (Εθνική Λυρική Σκηνή). One of Greece's leading set designers, Vakalo was author of the book 'Sýntomi Istoría tis Skinografías' ('Σύντομη Ιστορία της Σκηνογραφίας', "Short History of Stage Design", Kedros Publications, 1979).

Teacher
In 1957, Vakalo and his wife since 1944, poet and art critic Eleni Vakalo, joined the painter Panayiotis Tetsis and the art entrepeneur Frantzis C. Frantzeskakis in the founding of the Elefthero Spoudastirio Kalon Technon in Athens, the first Greek School of Applied Arts in Athens. Vakalo served as a teacher between 1957 and 1978. One of his students was Zoe Skiadaresi. Later, the school became known as Vakalo School, and then Vakalo Art & Design College. Since 2012, the school also offers classes in comic art, with comic artist and film director Nikos Koutsis as one of the teachers.

Painter
At the end of 1949, Vakalo participated in the founding of the artistic group Stathmi, but distanced himself from their neo-realist tradition shortly afterwards. He remained faithful to his personal surrealist style, characterized by its abstraction, soft colors and decorative moods. Vakelo's work was shown in solo and group exhibitions in Greece and abroad, including in Stockholm (Sweden), London (UK) and Alexandria (Egypt).

(Comic) Illustrator
During the 1950s, he was involved with the publishing house Atlantis of Giorgos Pechlivanidis, responsible for the Greek translations of the 'Classics Illustrated' comic book series ('Κλασσικά Εικονογραφημένα'). The American comic books with adaptations of literary classics was launched in Greece in 1951, with translations by Vassilis Rotas. By October 1953, the translated issues were supplemented with locally produced installments, presenting tales from Byzantine/Greek history and ancient mythology in comic book format. George Vakalo was one of the local illustrators, alongside Nikos Kastanakis, Bost, Pavlos Valasakis, Gerasimos Livieratos, Takis Katsoulidis, Giannis Dragonas, Vasilis Zisis, Alkmini Grammatopoulou and Costas Grammatopoulos.

Along with M. Papageorgiou, Vakalo was also a cover illustrator for Oikogéneia ("Family") magazine, published by GP Michalopoulos from 1953 on. The magazine contained cartoons, story serials, fashion and theatrical news. The covers featured painted portraits of Greek and international stars.

Recognition
In 1938, George Vakalo was awarded with the first prize at the Carmine International Exhibition Prize in Paris. He was also honored with a French Government's Knight Legion Prize for his contributions to French theater. A member of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece (EETE), George Vakalo passed away in Athens in 1991.

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