War '40, from the series 'Comments - Happenings', 1985
Vakirtzis's concern with painting began with his apprenticeship to Stephanos Almaliotis, who, during the inter-War years, taught him the technique of the giant poster. After the Second World War, he studied painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts, and then painting and engraving at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris and engraving and graphic arts at independent academies. After his return to Greece, he worked systematically on the production of giant posters, an occupation in which he distinguished himself and which was for him a personal avant-garde achievement, while he also wrote essays in which his passion for art is apparent. At the same time, adopting a position proper to the spirit of modernism, he concerned himself with a form of painting with a social and critical approach, depicting his real world in drawings, art work, water-colours, oil-paintings, Indian ink drawings, and gouaches. He showed his works in series of pictures with depictions commenting on a given theme as their common object.
Vakirtzis showed his works in series of pictures with depictions commenting on a given theme as their common object. One of these series is 'Comments - Happenings', to which his War '40 belongs - a picture which condenses the whole essence of the Albanian epic. The victorious battles, the transporting of supplies to the fighting men, and the return of the soldier to his family and the embrace of his child are crowded on to the surface of the work in an effort by the artist to recall to the memory everything that happened during the course of the war. 'Keeping company' with yesterday, the assimilation of historical material, which from being a document becomes a painting with sensibility and emotion, and functions through the juxtaposing of items from the historical memory and elevation into a living reality, as Vakirtzis, a committed artist, never ceased to comment on wars, conflicts, and disasters. And within this endless action of a heterogeneous crowd, individual figures stand out, alien to one another, in a 'monologue' which gives expression, as the artist himself tells us in his autobiographical writings, to "units and groups, all together and alien".