Alekos Fassianos is a Greek artist based in Athens. He is noted for his contemporary oil paintings that juxtapose abstract shapes in bright colors with traditional Greek motifs. Fassianos’ paintings are known as national symbols of modern Greece and his lithographs, murals, and paintings are all highly celebrated.
Fassianos’ Life and Career
Alekos, or Alecos, Fassianos was born in 1935 in Athens. His mother, a teacher of philology and Greek, was an early influence on his education in Greek history and myth, something that would later shape his whole oeuvre. Fassianos enrolled at the Fine Arts School in Athens in 1956 and there began his formative training under Yannis Moralis. Moralis was a celebrated Greek artist associated with The Generation of the ’30s, a modernist art, literary, and social movement in Greece. Fassianos graduated in 1960, and soon gained a scholarship to study lithography at the Fine Arts School in Paris.
His associations with Louis Aragon and Jean-Marie Drot proved fruitful during his time in Paris, with Drot later prividing writing for Fassianos’ monograph. Fassianos returned to Greece in 1963, working for newspapers and holding his first solo exhibitions. He also artist worked on stage design and décor at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, the National Theater, and the Karolos Koun Theater.
This work in stage design was under Alexis Solomos, and was associated with a Kallithea studio for avant-garde artists. Fassianos’ involvement with the group was a departure from his early explorations in abstract and figurative painting; however, it did influence his signature contemporary renditions of figurative and mythological art.
He had a breakthrough show in 1966 at the Fachetti Gallery in New York. The next year, he left for France due to the political turmoil of the newly established Greek dictatorship. His exhibitions became more frequent and his work more productive after this move. While working for the Gallery Lolas, Fassianos exhibited internationally with shows in Tokyo, New York, Stockholm, Venice, and São Paulo. He was part of the 1971 Venice Biennale and the 1972 São Paolo Biennale.
The last three decades have been the most successful for Fassianos. He had 20 solo shows in the 1990s, 25 shows in the early 2000s, and 25 shows in the 2010s. He has been featured in 25 group shows from 1963 through 2020. In the early 2000s, he painted and installed his murals for the Metaxourgio Station in Athens. In 2005, he was honored for his 70th birthday at the National Art Gallery of Athens with a retrospective exhibition displaying 300 of his art pieces.
Fassianos has been awarded multiple accolades and honors. In 1985, he received the accolade of the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in France. He received the French title of the Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2010, and later became the Commander of the Order in 2020.
He was made an Honorary Member of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts in 2010 and was awarded the French title of Officer of the Legion of Honor in 2013. Fassianos is still practicing, and his work is continually featured at exhibitions around the world. He lives and works in Athens, his hometown, and is a member of the Fine Arts Academy of Athens.
Fassianos is largely known for his oil paintings. His acrylics, posters, murals, and lithographs are less popular but still incorporate his signature figurative style. Fassianos incorporates bright colors and recurring Greek motifs in his paintings, and has painted significant political events in Greek history. According to Pierre Cabanne, Greek mythology is a dominant influence on Fassianos, and through his art, Fassianos “lives in a mythic world.”
Fassianos has produced etchings, illustrated books, and lithographs. He was also a stage designer for classic and modern theatrical productions, incorporating his Greek mythological motif in stage décor. In 1983 he created a shadow play at the Georges Pompidou Center.
Fassianos has said that Moralis trained him to emphasize light and how the central objects in an art piece shape and change the light. Fassianos has expressed his fascination with mysticism and the prominent images in classic Greek art like horses, haloed saints, and swords. He has modeled his work after Cycladic figurines, noted for their folded arms, simplistic features, and white color. Fassianos diverges from the white palette of the Cycladic figures and incorporates bright colors in blue and red palettes.
Alekos Fassianos is very popular in Greece, and some of his works are exhibited in public places: two large murals entitled The Myth of My Neighborhood can be seen in Athens at the Metaxourgeio metro station. Small sculptures by Fassianos stand in front of the Orthodox Church of St. Irene in Athens, and a giant vertical mural of his is in the lobby of the Electra Metropolis Hotel in Athens.
Fassianos in the Market
The last decade has seen a heightened demand for Fassianos’ work with a steady stream of sales and auctions. His oil paintings are the most valuable of his work and can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars on the international art stage. The highest earning from a single painting of his has been $1 million.
His acrylic paintings go for thousands of dollars in the international art market. His lesser known works, like lithographs and posters, can sell for thousands as well. The Messenger fetched close to six hundred thousand dollars when it was sold in London in December of 2007.
He has exhibited in multiple museums, galleries, and countries, with most of his works showing in Athens, Paris, Tokyo, New York, São Paulo, and Melbourne. His work is featured in private and public collections around the world and can be found in French museums like the MAEGHT Foundation, San Paul de Vence, the Paris Museum of Modern Art, and the Center for Contemporary Art.
His work is well known in Greece because it is featured across Athens as public art. His paintings and works can be seen at multiple Athenian and Greek museums, as well, including the National Art Gallery, the Alexandros Soutzos Museum, the Benaki museum, the Cycladic Art Museum, the Frissiras Museum, and the Theocharakis Foundation.
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