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ANASTASIOS ALEVIZOS / dit: TASSOS (Greece, Messinia, Lefkochora 1914-1985 / act: Athens)

TASSOS Tassos was a distinguished Greek engraver. He was born Anastasios Alevizos on 25 March 1914 at Lefkochora of Messinia, Greece. In his youth he attended the painting classes of George Kotsakis. In 1930, at age 16, he was admitted to the Athens School of Fine Arts - ASFA. There he took courses in sculpture and painting workshops of Thomas Thomopoulos, Umberto Argyros and Constantine Parthenis.

From 1933 until his graduation from the School in 1939, he attended the printmaking workshop of Yannis Kefallinos. It is speculated that a key role in his dedication to printmaking was largely shaped by his acquaintance with Dimitris. Galanis, another great Greek engraver of the interwar period, through which he became familiar with French etching. It is also claime d that he carried out studies in Paris, Rome and Florence. Even so, his talent in printmaking was recognized very quickly - in the Panhellenic Exhibition of 1938 he received the Award of Engraving and two years later (1940) he was awarded the National Medal of Engraving.

In 1930, he joined the Communist Party, initially the youth party (OKNE) and later as a full member. When the Greek-Italian war broke out in 1940, Tassos and many other students of Kefallinos painted propaganda posters for the heartening of the Greek people. During the Occupation, he joined EPON and the Artists of EAM to continue the (now illegal) publication of propaganda material against the invaders.

After the liberation, Tassos began dealing with other subjects beyond the epic of war, as nudes, still lifes and portraits, while he also introduced color in his woodcuts.

Tassos also had a special affection for books and graphic arts. Already in 1939, with his graduation, he created covers and vignettes for the literary magazine 'Nea Estia' (New Hearth). Immediately after the liberation, he became artistic director of the publishing house 'Ta Nea Vivlia' (The New Books) that was founded by the Communist Party in 1945 and ended in 1948. In 1948 he began to liaise with the Organization for the Publication of School Books OESV (later known as Organization for the Publication of Educational Books - OEDV). The fruit of his collaboration with OESV / OEDV was the illustration of many books for the elementary and secondary school, starting with the sixth grade Reading Book that was released in 1949.

In 1948 he became artistic consultant of 'Aspiotis-ELKA' lithography, and from 1954 to 1967 he created stamps on behalf of the Greek Post, initially using the technique of color woodcut and then the offset method. Also, from 1962 until his death, he designed the stamps of the Republic of Cyprus. In 1959 he became director of the Department of Graphic Arts at the Athens Technological Institute - ATO, where he taught until 1967.

He was one of the founding members of the artistic group 'L evel', which honored him with a retrospective exhibition of his works in the first post-civil war years. At the same time presented his work at the Biennial of Venice (1952) and Lugano (1953).

During the 1960s his subject matter began to focus on the performance of the human form. He gradually gave up color, engraved increasingly larger blocks of wood and began to create groups of works in three and four parts. At the same time he engaged with hagiography, while continuing to design books.

During the Greek Military Junta of 1967-1974, he lived in self- exile abroad and created works of social protest by recording the events that shocked him. After the collapse of the Junta, he exhibited his works at the National Gallery (1975) and shortly afterwards became a board member of the same institution. In 1977, he was founding member of the Hellenic Cultural Movement.

He c ontinued to work hard until the last days of his life. He passed away on 13 October 1985 in Athens, leaving unfinished a series of eight configurations for at the Town Hall of Volos. In 1987, the National Gallery honored him with a second major retrospective exhibition of his works.

One year after his death, was fromed the A. Tassos Visual Arts Society, with an aim to disseminate his work and support Greek printmaking. Since 1991 and every three years, th is Society is to produce group exhibitions of young Greek Engravers in many different cities of Greece. The Society also maintains a museum at the house where Tassos and his wife, the painter and engraver Lucia Maggioros (b. 1914) lived and created art, at 34 Ardittou Street at the Mets district of Athens.

His works are characterized by their quality workmanship and the emotional - tender and Dorian - rendering of the form of ordinary people their toil and pain. Even so, the modern viewer cannot but distinguish within the woodcuts of Tassos an epic grandeur of militant art. Indeed, the printmaker himself "remained until the end of his life militant to the case of the struggle for a new society, just, democratic and socialist" (Iliana Mortoglou, Rizospastis , 23 October 1995).

[Megakles Rogakos 12/2008]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
DIMITRIS PAPASTAMOS / IRENE ORATI / ANGELA TAMVAKI A. Tassos: Printmaking 1987 National Gallery, Athens [Greek]
PAPASTAMOS / ORATI / MICHAILOVITZ POLEVOI / MOURELOS A. Tassos: Printmaking 1932-1985 1998 Athens

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