Alekos Fassianos


Alekos Fassianos (1935 – 2022) was born in Athens, Hellas. He is deemed as one of the most significant and distinguished Hellenic artists of the 20th century.

He studied painting (1955-1960) at the Athens School of Fine Arts, under Yiannis Moralis, and violin at the Athens Conservatoire. Later, shortly after his first solo show in Athens (A23 Gallery, 1960), he went to Paris, supported by a French State Scholarship, and studied lithography at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, under Clairin and Dayez (1962-1964).

The French capital enabled and empowered his entry to the circle of personages of the cultural scene of that time.

In 1966 the artist gained his first real success during one exhibition at the Facchetti Gallery in New York. After that, he moved for good to Paris when the dictatorship raised in Greece, in 1967, and lived there for 35 years, keeping, however, an equally close relationship with Hellas. He showed his works especially in Paris (Gallery Iolas) and then little by little all over the world and beyond. He held several shows, particularly in New York, Tokyo, Stockholm, Malmô, and exhibited in the Biennales in Venice and São Paulo, as well. Yet, France always remained his second home where he used to come back on a regular basis to display his new work.

He stayed faithful to figurative painting and his Greek heritage, maintaining all along his love for Hellenic art (ancient, byzantine, folk) and his strong ties with the genuine Hellenic scenery experience. 

He collaborated with major Hellenic theatre organizations, as stage and costume designer in both performances of ancient Greek drama and modern plays, such as the National Theatre of Greece, the Karolos Kuhn Art Theatre (Theatro Technis), and other troupes.

He has been privileged with numerous significant titles and awards nationally and internationally among which:

  • 1985: Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (France)
  • 2009: Honorary Member of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts (Russia)
  • 2013: Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour (France)
  • 2020: Commander of the Order Arts and Letters (France)

In 1999 he was announced a member of the Athens Academy and in 2010 was honoured with the Legion d’Honneur medal (Officier des Lettres et des Arts) by the French government, one of the most distinguished awards in France. 

He held more than 70 solo exhibitions in Hellas and abroad. One of his latest retrospective exhibitions entitled Fassianos: Mythologies of Everyday Life was held at the Athens National Art Gallery in 2004.

His work was presented in plenty national group shows, international Art Fairs and group exhibitions including: Sao Paolo Biennale (1971) | Venice Biennale (1972) | Europalia, Brussels (1982) | Biennial of European Graphic Art, Baden-Baden (1985), et al.

Some of his works are exhibited in public places like two large murals entitled The Myth of My Neighbourhoo (2000) in the Metaxourgio metro station in Athens or small sculptures in front of the Orthodox Church of St. Irene in Athens.

He has also designed a great number of posters and stamps.

In parallel with his artistic career, he published his own prose and poetry, and at the same time he colored the words of different well-known poets in Hellas and France (Odysseas Elytis, Yannis Ritsos, Vassilis Vassilikos, Dimitris Analis, Kostas Tachtis and many others). He is also responsible for many illustrated books (Ed. A. Biren, Fata Morgana) that are now to looked after by collectors.

Furthermore, noteworthy is the fact that four films on his oeuvre have been released (Greek and French productions), and several monographs have been published while remarkable is his presence in the Press, since a wide record of articles extensively refers to him and his work. 

In 2023, the Alekos Fassianos Museum opened to the public presenting works from 1956 to the end of the artist’s life.

Additionally, his studio and residence on Kea (Tzia) island in Aegean Sea opens its doors to the public in 2023. The artist first discovered Kea in the spring of 1967. He instantly fell in love with the island’s picturesque and historical sites and bought a small atelier to live and work during the summer months. His mythology-based distinctive art style was greatly shaped by the Hellenic summer, as poet and art historian, E. Vakalo, once stated, and in particular by the summer in the Aegean Sea.

Today Alekos Fassianos’ works are traded in numerous respectful auction houses. On 13 December 2007, his painting titled The Messenger was sold for €550,701 at Bonham’s in London. His artworks are to be found in important private and public collections as well as in established national and international museums, foundations and institutions around the world.

Curator’s note: Across the span of almost 7 decades of prodigious creativity, Alekos Fassianos has earned a historical place among the global artistic world. Deemed as one of the most preeminent painters of modern life in Hellas, not only did he fundamentally contribute to the growth of the Hellenic Modern Art but he also exerted an impact on later artistic expression and cultural production in general. 

Alekos Fassianos carried this special quality of being widely admired, accepted and sought after. Even today, on one hand, his name, so broadly circulated, with almost everyone knowing it, still remains a vibrant part of the current art discourse. On the other hand, his work, nearly unanimously appreciated due to its distinctive style and iconography, upholds such a timeless value, with strong status behind, that someone could say as if the artist reinforced the public view through the creation of a stand-out brand for himself and his workmanship.

Actually, much of the aforementioned reputation and status attributed to him derived from his constant engagement in the ‘developing, nurturing and promoting’ (Schroeder, 2005: 130) his own art, becoming distinguished as a name. Alike Andy Warhol who was the first artist and the major influence behind the popularity of art, Alekos Fassianos, all the way up to his passing, didn’t stop producing art by large amounts. Except for the main corpus of his work which was so excessive in extent and force as to elicit awe, issued work onto different kind of objects to be sold as a commodity, or mission-specific art pieces, created upon various occasions, gave rise to the beyond-any bounds popularity of his art creation. His name became indisputably everlasting, both in Hellas and abroad, while his images, along with the portraits included, turned out to be unforgettable icons of ominous significance, immortalized in popular culture.    

His strength further rested in the fact that, throughout his artistic career, he encompassed something unique about his art by formulating a genuine and particularly distinguishable personal aesthetic vernacular. He was widely involved in a kind of Expressionism-based practice, gently merged with Hellenic folk art references and decorative motifs reflective of popular, tradition-focused depictions.

Upholding the pride of his Hellenic origin, and maintaining the respect of the colossal cultural heritage of his home country, he employed a Byzantine attitude mainly based on sophisticated aesthetics. Correspondingly to Byzantine modes of style that were partly evolved from the predecessor classical Hellenic mythology, marked by a meaningful and deeply symbolic approach, Alekos Fassianos’ oeuvre relies on the applied expressive forces of both artistic contents.

Moreover, within the process of fashioning this sharply characteristic style, his artistic language was stirred up by the study of the grand saga’ of the European civilization and heritage -derived from the antique times down to modern era- with all its edifying cultural assets, principles, rules and interpretations encompassed. in fact, unlike other Hellene artists of his generation, and although he spent great time in Paris, none of the European avant-garde movements of the time were clearly adopted or purely taken up into practice by him. Instead, Alekos Fassianos’ attraction to European culture and civilization was incorporated in an unceremonious interaction with the viewer pointing to remembrances and truths from the elapsed time, the present-day and the time ahead.

Someone could say that he drew a parallel between surrealist insights and a sort of expressionist Abstraction, masterfully succeeding in converting imageries of cultural state of affairs, recorded away below the level of our consciousness, and relied upon the high-spiritedness and the exuberance of an imaginary story.

In this light, the audience have been experiencing the artist’s emblematic style of acuity and sharpness in perception upon an informal negotiation with theatricality. Canvasses rich in seductively lively forms and dreamy details, unfolded within a powerful and vivid chromatic scheme, all feature a hauntingly beautiful kind of mythology that takes place in a fanciful world, nearly equal to a fairy-tale, filled with signs and icons of popular culture. French art critic & historian, Pierre Cabanne writesHe lives in a mythic world. Even those paintings that are describing objects or venues stemmed from reality are more than just representations of everyday life. Rather, they often suggest fabled influences with a direct reference to the visionary world of the Hellenic mythology.

But above all, being primarily anthropocentric and having portraiture as starting point, his compositions were developed upon the conception of human figure. More specifically, having a visual identity to go along with a plain, uncomplicated form and repeated use, Alekos Fassianos’ figures exert such a powerful attraction that up to date captivate the viewer at once. They became broadly and immediately recognizable, not to mention the symbol the artist is best known for.

At first they may appear naive and childlike however they transcend themselves to become universal, emblematic and completely unaffected by time. They overcame their initial deliberate simplicity, and gradually progressed and become dominant and pulsated presences within their space that push outward both their image and appeal. Lively vigorous and at the same time elegiastically articulated and structured, they look dreamlike since they carry more of a poetic than a realistic sensation. Despite their minimal and flat drawing style, they rhythmically expand and contract, giving off their cosmic energy and grandeur. Inevitably, Alekos Fassianos’ celebrated human figures were being converted into allegorical visages yet archetypical and iconic.

In all stages of his work, the stress on painterly artistic values divulges the artist’s deep bond with the genuine assets ​​of art-creating. Even today, his ‘brand’ of vibrant quality and esthetic supremacy brings to the fore the exceptionality of his oeuvre which, in turn, catalytically conduces to the advance and enhancement of the Hellenic art production.

Indisputably, Alekos Fasianos became one of the most distinctive figures of all ages upon the Hellenic artistic scene with his works still acting as the ultimate inheritance and a major reference point, not only for the Hellenic Modern art but respectively for the worldwide Modern art, against any crushing passage of time.

Nelly Fili