Tassos Mantzavinos

Mantzavinos Tassos
© Christina Mantzavinou

Born in Athens in 1958, he was an Athens School of Fine Arts student (1979-1985). Between 1986 and 1996 he taught free-hand drawing at the Vakalo School of Arts. He has also illustrated the following books: “Anti tis Siopis” by Lefteris Poulios (instead of silence) 1993, “O afanis thriamvos tis omorfias” by Argyris Chionis (the unseen triumph of beauty) 1995, “Mikri Zoologia” collective work (the little book of zoology) 1998, “I naftilia kyklous kanei” by Philippos Begleris (shipping goes around in circles) 2011, “Ta Rebetika” (the rebetica songs, 5 copperplate engraving prints, 60 copies, Mnimermos Publications) 2012, “Idanikoi Aftocheires” (ideal suicides, K.G. Kariotakis, 12 lithographs, 50 copies, Mnimermos Publications) 2013, “Adam kai Eva” (Adam and Eve, T. Mantzavinos, lithographs, 60 copies, Mnimermos Publications) 2015, “To Koraki” (The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe, T. Mantzavinos, lithographs, 40 copies, Mnimermos Publications) 2016. His works can be found in private and public collections both in Greece and abroad. He lives and works in Athens.

Works

On Art and His Art: Tassos Mantzavinos

The painter Tassos Mantzavinos talks about painting as a unique and irreplaceable means of expression, which uses only colours and shapes to render an image, albeit with the need for this expression as an absolute prerequisite. He confesses that all of his work is, ultimately, about himself and his interpretation of the world around him. He underlines that after the cumulative process of knowledge and information, the painter must discard and remove all that is acquired until he reaches the essence of himself. Remarking upon the different roles of painter and collector, he brings up his erotic paintings that are part of the Sotiris Felios Collection and emphasises the vital need for the existence of collectors who support edgy painting, and those artists that prove, through each of their works, that no subject matter has been exhausted.

Solo Exhibitions

2017

The Woman of Zakynthos Travelling exhibition National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation – Bookshop, Athens / 2018 National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation – Bookshop, Thessaloniki (curated by Giorgos Mylonas)

2017

Snakes and Ladders Skoufa Gallery Athens (curated by Giorgos Mylonas)

2016

Edgar Allan Poe – The Raven Travelling exhibition National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation – BookshopNational Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation – Bookshop, Athens / 2017 National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation – Bookshop, Thessaloniki (curated by Giorgos Mylonas)

2015

Mnesipemona 16 Fokionos Negri Athens (curated by Tatiana Spinari-Pollali, organised by Citronne Gallery)

2013

Ionos Gallery Karditsa

2012

Theorema Art Gallery Brussels

2012

For My Strength Is Made Perfect in Weakness Benaki Museum – Pireos Str. Building (138 Pireos St.) Athens (curated by Elizabeth Plessa)

2012

Ultramarin TinT Gallery Thessaloniki

2012

Karaghiozis and I Skoufa Gallery Athens

2010

Angelos and Leto Katakouzenos Foundation Athens (curated by Louisa Karapidaki, organised by the Hellenic Folklore Research Centre of the Academy of Athens)

2010

Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens (curated by Elizabeth Plessa)

2010

Chess K-art Gallery Athens

2008

Galerie Aliquando Paris

2008

Painting 2005-2007 TinT Gallery Thessaloniki

2007

TinT Gallery Thessaloniki

2007

Art Space 24 Athens

2005

Oionos Gallery Karditsa

2005

Nees Morfes Gallery Athens

2004

TinT Gallery Thessaloniki

2003

Mylonoyanni Art Gallery Chania

2003

Ariadne Art Gallery Heraklion

2003

Nees Morfes Gallery Athens

2002

TinT Gallery Thessaloniki

2000

Nees Morfes Gallery Athens

1999

Terracotta Art Gallery (TinT Gallery) Thessaloniki

1997

Terracotta Art Gallery (TinT Gallery) Thessaloniki

1997

Nees Morfes Gallery Athens

1996

Terracotta Art Gallery (TinT Gallery) Thessaloniki

1995

Anemos Art Gallery Athens

1994

Terracotta Art Gallery (TinT Gallery) Thessaloniki

1994

Drawings Nees Morfes Gallery Athens

1993

Art Space 24 Athens

1991

Medusa Art Gallery Athens

1989

Medusa Art Gallery Athens

1987

Medusa Art Gallery Athens

1985

Gallery Zalokosta 7 (Gallery 7) Athens

1984

Gallery Zalokosta 7 (Gallery 7)

Press

Mnesipemona

The work of Tassos Mantzavinos cannot be included in trends or movements; the artist does not follow a ‘school’. What attracts him is historical continuity as expressed in Byzantine iconography, popular art, Karaghiozis and Kontoglou. Mantzavinos creates a distinct expressionist idiom in which any naturalistic tendency is rejected: forms are distorted, colours dissipate. The final result conveys an emotionally-laden, frequently mystical atmosphere.

Memory dominates, personal and collective. It appears and is analysed at times as a historical event, at others as a myth, yet others as a bequeathed tradition. These discrete manifestations of memory are painted as representations of anniversaries, figures of myth, scenes from fairy tales, reconstructions of folk paintings and icons. The subject matter is historical events and folk narratives. Mantzavinos does not differentiate between myth, history or tradition: on the contrary, he combines and transforms events and legends, times and spaces. Castles, warriors, pennants, mottos, mythical figures and saints of the Orthodox faith are depicted as elements/symbols. Often, figures are celebratory, laudatory or festive, but at the same time, the paintings are resonant with fear, awe, and grieving. Mantzavinos does not even hesitate to ‘paint’ language: proverbs, lyrics from demotic songs. At times he uses phrases/symbols from foreign languages, French for example, but the words are ‘grecified’ through misspellings that recall external influences on the history of this country. The clear or confused manner with which language is ‘drawn’ means that it cannot be isolated from the rest of the painting. The written word becomes absorbed, becomes an element of art, a part of the composition.

The paintings and constructions being presented in the “Mnesipemona” exhibition are the latest development of Mantzavinos’s artistic creation. Both in the paintings and the constructions forms are moulded by repeated thick layers of colour: the oils become almost a sculptural material whose surface is thickly engraved with a sharp object, giving the work an almost relief texture. A sense of horror vacui emanates and becomes more intense when densely worked forms are placed on a monochromatic background of black, blue or red hues. His paintings have warriors in besieged castles, in fortified ships, soldiers, Aeneus with the statue of Artemis on his shoulders, Pegasus, the saint battling the dragon, the sirens. These figures from mythology or Christian tradition reflect good and evil as defined by imagination and the collective unconscious where lies the fear of death. The atmosphere is one of a continuous battle, an eternal war, palpable or metaphysical.

The lithographs-comments on the poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe are along the same lines.

With this artistic baggage, Mantzavinos, who carries painful memories of calamities, deals with historical and cultural continuity.

 

Dr Tatiana Spinari-Pollali
Art historian – Citronne Gallery Director
*From the catalogue of Tassos Mantzavinos’s exhibition “Mnesipemona”, 16 Fokionos Negri, 2015.