Sunday, 17 June 2012


“Sooner or later comes a crisis in our affairs, and how we meet it determines our future happiness and success. Since the beginning of time, every form of life has been called upon to meet such crisis.” - Robert Collier
The second run of the earlier inconclusive parliamentary Greek Elections is being held today, so it is apt to highlight a Greek artist for this Art Sunday. Despite the numerous political, financial and social problems faced by modern Greeks, a strong element of cultural and artistic life manages to survive in the crisis, or perhaps is even fuelled by it. It will be interesting to see the results of this Greek election and whether the elected party/parties can form a functional government that will lead Greece out of the crisis…

Alekos Fassianos (born in 1935) is a famous Greek painter. He studied violin at the Athens Conservatory and painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts from 1956 to 1960 where he was taught by Yannis Moralis. He went to Paris on a French State scholarship between 1962 and 1964, where he also attended lessons on lithography along with Clairin and Caroline Chariot-Dayez. In 1966 he lived and worked solely in Paris, while from 1974 he divided his time between Paris and Athens.

Since his first exhibition in Athens in 1959 he has had more than 70 solo exhibitions in Paris, Athens, Thessaloniki, Milan, New York, London, Tokyo, Beirut, Hamburg, Munich and other cities. Apart from painting he has worked on calligraphy, poster creation, illustration of books and various publications in Greece and abroad. He has also collaborated in many theatrical projects with the National Theatre of Greece. He has also written poems and essays. At least four documentaries on his work have been produced by Greek and French television networks. He was invited to produce stamps and posters for the Athens 2004 Olympics. His works are today exhibited in many museums and private collections in Greece and abroad.

Fassianos’ personal artistic style was shaped during the 1960s. His inspiration is manifold and he takes his subjects from Greek myths, history and the Greek social and geographical landscape. One can see associations with the Fayum mummy portraits, Byzantine icons and the Greek popular shadow theatre characters. His paintings are also characterised by motion, which is emphasised by the hair or clothes waving in the breeze. In his artistic maturity his figures are known for their voluptuousness and the luminosity of the color he uses to highlight the sensuality and the immense pleasure of everyday life. This is probably less true of his early works. His works from the 1960s were made in the expressionist style and his figures are more grotesque or exaggerated.

The painting above is a typical example of the artist’s mature style, showing the characteristically grotesque figures, which nevertheless acknowledge multiple historical and folk traditions in Greek art. One may see resemblances to ancient Greek pottery, modern-day cartoons (for example those of Bost), one observes a kinship with Matisse’s work and that of Picasso and Botero. Fassianos’ paintings nevertheless retain their individual flavor and make powerful statements about modern life and the vicissitudes of Greek history from ancient to modern times.

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