Tassos Missouras

Missouras Tassos

Born in Larissa in 1963, he was an Athens School of Fine Arts student (1981-1986) of Dimitris Mytaras, Rena Papaspyrou, Yannis Moralis, Dimitris Koukos and Zacharias Arvanitis. Throughout his studies he was granted scholarships; eventually he received his degree summa cum laude. In 1987 he won a French state higher education scholarship (C.R.O.U.S.) to study at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (1987-1991) under the tutelage of Leonardo Cremonini and in 1988 he received a Greek State Scholarships Foundation grant to pursue his studies at the Parisian École nationale supérieure des Arts decoratifs. Works of his are included in public and private collections both in Greece and abroad. He lives and works in Athens.


Solo Exhibitions


Alma Contemporary Art Gallery Athens


Fluid Frames Evripides Art Gallery Athens


Swab Art Fair 2015 Barcelona (Alma Contemporary Art Gallery)


Hof & Huyser Gallery Amsterdam


Dream Navigator Retrospective exhibition Frissiras Museum Athens


Fondation L’Estrée Ropraz


Terracotta Art Gallery (TinT Gallery) Thessaloniki


Athens Art Gallery Athens


Athens Art Gallery Athens


From Chaos, Forms…

Comments on the Recent Turn in Tassos Missouras’s Work

From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, whom she conceived and bare from union in love with Erebus. And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought forth long Hills, graceful haunts of the goddess-Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills. […] After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire. And again, she bare the Cyclopes, overbearing in spirit, Brontes, and Steropes and stubborn-hearted Arges, who gave Zeus the thunder and made the thunderbolt.

Hesiod, “Theogony”

Tassos Missouras’s last work is different. The familiar, usually female, forms with the big faces emerge from a chaotic universe. This chaos is sometimes a pictorial chaos, close to, but at the same time, away from both the abstraction and the representation, perhaps similar to Turner’s painting, and occasionally an architectural chaos, as if the forms rise from a landscape leveled to the ground, a nuclear disaster, a polar cold. It is, I reckon, the most ominous vision in Missouras’s painting. The Gothic atmospheres of the artist’s former work paradoxically remain. However, a more wintery atmosphere overshadows the climate of the German Romanticism and the fairy tales and elves of old works. Perhaps, in a grotesque geographical metaphor, Missouras migrated even more to the north of the Scandinavian landscapes towards the polar north…

Nevertheless, as it is probably obvious, this ominous climate fits perfectly to the dismal financial and psychological state of this country. Alas for the artist who does not function as a barometer of the social-political conditions of his time in order to grasp its spirit (Zeitgeist). About ten years ago, before this crisis broke out, the Frissiras Museum had hosted a retrospective exhibition of Missouras’s paintings that covered almost 21 years of his work and was accompanied by a bulky catalog. It was the first such exhibition of a painter of Missouras’s generation and, unexpectedly, was very well received. However, numerous questions arose: how did such a young painter have such a body of work, of such maturity? How did a contemporary Greek painter, with the, usual for his generation, additional training at the Cremonini studio in the Beaux-Arts in Paris emit such a dark, North-European melancholy? Regarding the latter, the artist always claimed that he never felt restricted by geographical determinations, and that his references were north-european, often German. Today, in the era of deep financial crisis and German ‘supervision’, it is not popular for someone to make such remarks, however, we all ought to dissociate the historical from the cultural dimension. We are all part German, because of Bach and Beethoven, Dürer and Otto Dix. For Missouras, this North-European vision pertains, above all, to painting and philosophy: Melencolia, as is pictorially defined by Dürer, permeates his whole work. It is no secret, moreover, and it has been reported by those who study Missouras’s work, that there exists a profound connection between him and the Symbolist and Pre-Raphaelite painters of the 19th century.

In an extremely difficult era in general, and particularly for representational painting, which after the war was met with depreciation and scorn, faced tumultuous competition in its own field by photography, went through metamodern restorations and came back into fashion and the stock exchange for art, experienced crisis and supersessions once again to finally, and more wisely in our opinion, focus its strategy on a few artists that paint after deep thought, examination and introspection and propose certain solutions, we have to be careful and accurate. Let go, if possible, of the information that Tassos Missouras should be cataloged to the painters of the so-called “generation of the ’90s” (or perhaps the end of the ’80s?) that study under Yannis Moralis and Dimitris Mytaras in the Athens School of Fine Arts and then pursue their graduate studies with Leonardo Cremonini in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Forget it, if you can. Missouras is an extremely particular case of an artist, full of Heterotopies (he apparently seems out of place in the mediterranean, multicultural Athens) and maybe (we are not absolutely sure about that) Heterochronies. His painting is anthropocentric, in a degree seldom found in the artists of his generation. The dull colours (?) made many people talk of  a “North-European atmosphere”. The element of non finito­ – deliberately unfinished works – appears in his latest works, which emphasize the greatest weapon Missouras has as a painter, his exquisite drawing.

And then, there are these ‘Missouric’ particularities, like his obsession with the human face, female mostly. More than ever, the recent work of the painter focuses on faces, which he paints disproportionally large with respect to their bodies, perhaps to emphasize them more. These female faces, though usually blindingly beautiful, make you swear that you know them from somewhere, you have met them before, they cannot but be faces of real people. The bodies themselves are twisted, distorted, bent, turned, they tightrope in an unnatural balance. Another ‘Missouric’ pictorial particularity is the disproportion of scale among the protagonists of his compositions. The figures grow and shrink, in a completely bizarre way. For the past twenty years, the artist seems to be painting his own version of “Alice in Wonderland” for adults, dark and gothic. A pictorial Tim Burton, for serious viewers. Occasionally, the atmosphere, set and costumes resemble in a way Elizabethan Baroque compositions, while sometimes they refer to something eerily contemporary.

In the last years, Missouras incorporates in his work elements apparently irrelevant to the pictorial plan, inset ‘little clouds’, references probably to comics or engineering drawings. Another new element in his latest period is the presence of words, either as signboards on buildings of the composition, or directly on the surface, insets like the aforementioned little clouds. These new elements bring the Greek artist closer to the pictorial quest of the Californian Robert Williams and his magazine, the “Juxtapoz”, but also to the North-European and Eastern (in the sense of the former “Eastern Bloc”) painting of the German Neo Rauch. Undoubtedly, Tassos Missouras is an artist that evolves and I have no doubt that he will continue to do so. My greatest agony is which direction this evolution will take…


Thanassis Moutsopoulos
* From the catalogue of Tassos Missouras’s exhibition “Fluid Frames”, Evripides Art Gallery, Athens, 2017.