Greek artist Alekos Fassianos, whose work drew on his country’s mythology and folklore, died Sunday at the age of 86, his daughter Viktoria told AFP.
Described by some admirers as a modern-day Matisse and by others as the Greek Picasso, his works, which included paintings, lithographs, ceramics and tapestries, have been shown around the world.
While he resisted comparison with Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, he admired both artists, but insisted he had drawn on many different influences.
Fassianos, who had been bedridden at his home in the suburbs of Athens for several months, died in his sleep, Viktoria Fassianou said.
Ill health had forced the artist to put down his paintbrushes in 2019.
“All the work of Fassianos, the colors that filled his canvases, the multidimensional forms that dominated his paintings, exude Greece,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis paid tribute to Fassianos as a painter who “always balanced between realism and abstraction.”
Fassianos, he added, “leaves us a precious heritage.”
The artist split his time between Greece and France, where he studied lithography at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris.
The website devoted to his work says his style was forged in the 1960s and that his main themes have always been man, nature and the environment.
From Paris to Munich, Tokyo to Sao Paolo, Fassianos’s works were shown around the world. Examples of his work can be found in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and in the Pinacotheque in Athens.
“Greekness has always been his inspiration, from mythology to contemporary Greece,” the artist’s wife, Mariza Fassianou, told AFP during a visit to his home last year. “He has always believed that an artist should create with what they know.”
Her husband would work on the floor or even scratch the corner of a table, she said. “He destroyed what he didn’t like.”
An Athens museum devoted to his work will open in autumn 2022 and display some of the works that currently adorn his home.
His friend, architect Kyriakos Krokos, entirely redesigned the central Athens museum that will showcase his work, collaborating with Fassianos himself.
France has bestowed upon him some of its top awards, including the Legion of Honor (Arts and Letters) and he is also an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts.