Just as fish cannot live out of water, Alecos Fassianos cannot live without painting whatever he feels about life, whatever touches him: a simple scarf left on a table, some humble straws, a full moon, a passing ship sailing in the background and echoes of softly painted surfaces until the vision disappears in Elytis own words.1 His world is a celestial world, a constant call to run away to a place of delights and pleasures, an escape to a timeless realm of eternal Sundays.2
Fassianos is in love with his native land and the Aegean Sea. This wonderful and evocative still life from the mid 1980s -one of the artists most creative periods- demonstrates his spontaneous delight in fluid and graceful forms, the sensuality he distils from simple, everyday pleasures, his power to seize the day through the timeless schemata that have for centuries nurtured Greek civilization. The small fish of the Aegean, carrying the moonlight on their silver scales, captured his imagination at an early age, remaining a rich and constant source of inspiration ever since. This is how he describes his experience: ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys: Fish), a Greek acronym for Jesus Christ Gods Son Saviour. What a brilliant concept secretly referring to religiosity! A humble fish becomes a symbol of faith. And when you sit at the seashore close to the rocks where the water turns turquoise, you see the silvery trail of a fish sparkling and then disappearing in the deep. And you want to get there too, to follow the fleeting light of silver, to travel to the grottos of the deep with the golden beaches. A spell drew me to the sea ever since we were going to Voula, when the coastal road had not opened yet and the area was full of pine trees. We used to swim and fish with hooks and anything we could use as bait. We would take an improvised glass to a reef and with this magical observation tool we spied on the deep and you should see the fish down there! So many the people of today wont ever see. These are not the fish you buy in the market but the small ones -wrass, bluish or reddish perch, comber, sargos, bream and all the other kinds Christ himself used to catch.3
The painting shows Fassianos at his mature best, demonstrating not only his signature schematization of form and ingenious combination of descriptive elements and decorative motifs, but also some daring and advanced pictorial formulations. The tilted composition that stems from Byzantine art, and the extremely shallow foreground which virtually identifies the table top with the flat surface of the canvas, push the composition out of the frontal plane and towards the viewer. This bold treatment of space allows the painter to broaden his perspective to include the sensory and emotional context of the entire field. His ability to convey a sense of joy, optimism and well-being in such radiant works that unfold a world of familiar images prompted art critic E. Trichon-Milsani to draw a parallel with Matisse, who aspired to a balanced, pure and serene art that would gently comfort the soul.4 Like Matisse, Fassianos perceives the still life as translating a universe of feeling inspired by sensations of sight and touch, into an organic and sensuous architecture of colour and light.5 The images of summer run through my mind. These ethereal, charming, fleeting images I capture like a fisherman. I weave the nets of my memory; I paint the colours that glow like fish sparkling in the sea.6
1. O. Elytis, Open Cards, Ikaros publ., Athens 1987, p. 587. 2. M. Lambraki-Plaka, The Art of Alekos Fassianos - A Popular Paganism in Fassianos - Mythologies of Everyday Life, p. 13. 3. A. Fassianos in Y. Kolokotronis, Ichthis (Fish) [in Greek], (exhibition catalogue), Averoff Museum, Metsovo, Pieridis Picture Gallery, Athens and Nikosia Municipal Art Centre, 1996, p. 98. 4. See E. Trichon-Mislani, 'The 1984 FIAC in Paris' [in Greek], Eikastika magazine, no. 36, December 1984, p. 31. See also Eikastika magazine, no. 37, January 1985, p. 53. 5. See M. Rowell, Objects of Desire - The Modern Still Life, (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York 1997, p. 51. 6. A. Fassianos, Eikastika magazine, no. 36, December 1984, p. 32.