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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Awakening (Self portrait), 1946

Vlase Zanalis

oil on masonite (frame: 137.0 cm x 117.0 cm, support: 122.0 cm x 100.0 cm)

Palassis (Vlase, Vlazio or Vlasio) Zanalis arrived in Western Australia as a twelve-year-old from the Greek island of Kastellorizo in 1914. After working in his uncles’ oyster saloon for several years he began studying art, enrolling at the Perth Technical School in the early 1920s. He later gained commissions for portraits and personal icons from the Greek community, and in the 1930s he commenced his work in churches, creating icons, paintings and decorations for Greek churches in Innisfail, Sydney, Bunbury, Geraldton and West Perth. In 1939 Zanalis completed the iconostasis featuring 24 small paintings of episodes from the life of Christ, the large cross and wall murals and doors for the new Greek Orthodox church in Perth. He was a Christian Scientist himself, but iconography supplied his stable income even as he pursued his own favourite subjects: landscapes through the 1940s, and Aboriginal activities and dreamings from 1949. Ultimately, he had 88 paintings on Indigenous themes on the walls of his Kalamunda studio, but the works did not sell well, nor did Zanalis manage to interest a museum in acquiring them. Finally, his widow donated 33 paintings to the University of Western Australia and eleven to Curtin University.

This work, Zanalis’s only known self-portrait, was the centerpiece of an exhibition of 47 landscapes held in Perth in 1948.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2015

Accession number: 2015.4

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Vlase Zanalis (age 44 in 1946)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.