A POET OF CANVAS & COLOURS
An emblematic painter and a true poet of canvas and colours, Alekos Fasianos was one of the leading personalities of Greek and International Art. Multi-talented, he was also an engraver, set designer and costume designer. He had created numerous projects, paintings, engravings, posters, theatrical sets, as well as book and music album covers. He passed away on January 16, 2022, after first introducing Greece around the world with his Art.
He was moved. He could not paint by chance after all this influence. “In his work, the whole of Greece is included, from antiquity until today, imprinted in his own way”, says the artist’s wife, Mariza Fasianou. Her memories, like a rushing river, unfold unknown aspects of the leading visual artist’s character and reveal personal moments that decipher his personality.
“He was like a torrent. A special personality. Very intelligent, with an amazing sense of humor and at the same time, an introvert. He had a point of view about everything but also so apt, that you would wonder how he thought of it. I have endless things to remember from my life with him. From the way we got married, to our daily lives. Everything was sui generis. Even our wedding wreaths were made out of Coca-Cola and beer cans! He cut them and made them himself. We got married in Kea. He was very inventive, very creative.
“At one point I had invited him together with Jason Rizos for a business lunch at Asteras Vouliagmeni Hotel, where I was vacationing with my children. It was July. Alekos looked at my children, Victoria and Nikos, who were playing in the pool and asked me: “Is this your way to raise your children?” I answered: “This is in the best hotel in Greece”. To which, he replied: “Children must live in nature. They should get to know thyme, and lavender, they should cut twigs. They should smell the chamomile and see the crabs. I still had work to do in Athens, he took my children along with their nanny with him to Tzia. I joined them later. This led to our marriage.” This whole personal story shows how much he loved children and how much emphasis he gave to childhood experiences. He often said that “had he not have such intense childhood experiences he would not have become an artist”. Mariza Fasianou noted that the artist often regressed to incidents from his very young childhood. Like, when he was very young and he was playing, digging in the dirt and his mother would call him to lunch, he would reply: “please, let me finish what I am doing, first!” He was always focused on his work.
“From a very young age, he observed people, how they dressed, how they behaved and transformed it into Art. He incorporated the wide pants Greeks used to wear in post-war Greece, pants that were usually out of proportion, as most Greeks took them out of the aid packages provided by the Marshall Plan, the bicycles of his time”. All these visual memories were depicted in his Art. “He enjoyed capturing the wind blowing, freedom, movement” said Mariza Fasianou.
“My mother was a philologist and was obsessed with the ancient Greek world. She took me to the Museums or the Acropolis and wherever she could find ancient things. I really liked the illustrated ancient vases, especially the white lekythos, which depicted funeral representations. But I was most moved by the Cycladic figurines with stylized hands, the one-piece bodies that looked like toys.” “My father was a musician and thus I learned to play the violin. I do not think that affected me at all.
Because I wanted to paint since I was a small child. Until I was seventeen, I painted by myself, and I had the whole magical world of icons, in the churches, and on the other hand the statue worship of the ancient Greeks. Then I studied at the School of Fine Arts”. His parents objected to his choice to become a painter because they were afraid, he would struggle to make a living. As he had told his wife, they told him: “You will starve, my boy. “Look, Mr Tsirkas (a neighbour of theirs) he is a dentist, yet on Sundays he goes to church and sings.” They meant he should become a philologist and on Sundays he could grab his brushes and paint, on the side. “Alekos remembered that when he heard this, it was as if he was being murdered,” Mariza Fasianou explains.
In fact, he took the exams for the School of Philosophy and entered the school just to do his mother’s nod. Finally, she understood his passion, and so he transferred to the School of Fine Arts during the period 1956-1960 under Professor Giannis Moralis. Later, via a scholarship from the French government, he attended lithography classes at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1962-1964), near Pierre-Eugène Clairin and Georges Dayez. In 1966, he settled permanently in Paris, where he lived for 35 years, while maintaining a close and regular relationship with Greece.
“The years he was in Paris were mythical years” as Mariza Fasianou describes us. President Mitterrand used to say to him: “I sleep with your work”. In fact, when Melina Mercouri was Deputy Minister of Culture in a meeting with Mitterrand, Melina told the French Persident: “Mr. President, Fasianos is our national painter.” “No” Mitterrand replied. “He is our painter.” In France, he was greatly honored. In fact, in 2021 he was honoured with the highest honour, the highest award of the Commander of the Order of Letters and Arts “Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres” from the French Republic.
The Alekos Fasianos Museum is housed in Metaxourgeio, where the artist’s paternal home was located. While Alekos Fasianos was in Paris, his mother arranged for the house to be transformed into an apartment building. Alekos Fasianos was upset and decided to buy the apartment building. With the help of his friend, the great architect Kyriakos Krokos, they proceeded to radical interventions, transforming the apartment building into a building with the aesthetic signature of the two great artists.