On a quiet street lined with orange trees, sheltered from the hustle and bustle of Greece’s capital Athens, lies the house of renowned contemporary artist Alekos Fassianos.
Paintings, lithographs, ceramics and tapestries line the walls, but the secrets of the three-storey building’s eye-catching interior are rarely unveiled to the outside world.
A museum named after Fassianos – a man known worldwide for his works inspired by Greek mythology and folklore – will open in autumn 2022 and display some of the works adorning his home.
Iron suns decorate the windows, mosaics cover the floor and sculpted bamboo leaves grace the banisters, while gently curving walls were created without a corner to avoid a harsh coming-together.
“Welcome to the universe of Fassianos. It’s an artist’s house, a museum,” his daughter Viktoria Fassianou told AFP.
“Everything was designed and created by him, by hand, little by little, like a small paradise,” she added, pointing to the curtain rods, door handles, lights, sofa and ochre-coloured plasterwork.
Fassianos, who put down his paintbrush in 2019, rests in an adjoining room. Viktoria told AFP the 86-year-old’s fragile health prevented an interview with him.
Despite his works appearing in Paris, Munich, Tokyo and Sao Paulo, Fassianos wanted to stay faithful to his origins and memories.
“Greekness has always been his inspiration, from mythology to contemporary Greece,” said his wife Mariza Fassianou.
“He has always believed that an artist should create with what they know.”
Symbols of his attachment to his roots include depictions of fish from his favourite Greek island of Kea, round waves evoking Homer’s Odyssey and other scenes drawn from mythology.
Fassianos – who used to invent his own colours – has painted in blue to convey Greece’s blue sky, in red to give an impression of heat and in ochre to reflect the inspiration of traditional Greek handcrafts.
The veteran artist would work on the floor or even scratch the corner of a table.
“He destroyed what he didn’t like. I cried, but he knew better than me what we needed to keep,” his wife recalled.
Fassianos and architect friend Kyriakos Krokos entirely redesigned the central Athens museum that will showcase his work.
“My father planned everything but let future historians carry it out – he never wanted to take on responsibilities,” said Viktoria.
Fassianos has split his life between Greece and France, studying lithography at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris and rubbing shoulders with writers and painters as greats Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso did before him.
Although he admires the two painters, he denied being inspired by one artist over another, insisting he had drawn on 77 different influences.
“Alekos has always wanted to remain free and did what he wanted,” his wife said, citing his creations taken from the worlds of mythology or Byzantine art.