To comprehend Tassos Missouras, we must first grasp what modern Greece is, and by that, we mean the actual Greece, the Greece that no one talks about, the Greece that only Greeks know. For many of you, Greece may be just your favorite tourist destination on the map. However, for others, it may be the location where European civilization began with great philosophers and famous military leaders who established the foundations of our Western culture.
Thinking about Greece in only these two ways is extremely limited and not just for Greece but also for Italy and Spain, the other two protagonists of modern southern Europe. People often think of these places as the ruins of three great civilizations, existing only to open their museums, restaurants, and fabulous beach resorts for their vacations. However, if you dig deeper, you will quickly understand the importance of these three countries is some more in 2023 and why they are very different from others, particularly Greece.
Greece has never been and will never be a stable place. Behind the curtain of a wonderful culture, art, and human expressions lies a history of repeated conflicts that persist in Greece. The most recent conflict was the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Another important aspect of Greece to consider is that it is part of the Balkans, a specific hotspot in Europe where ethnic tensions have historically resulted in genocides, massive massacres, and ethnic cleansing. Greece has played a role as both a spectator and pacificator or victim in these conflicts.
It’s essential to remember that Greece, like the rest of the Balkans, has always experienced mass murders and cultural genocide, the most recent one perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, followed by Italy and Germany, who deported people to concentration camps, sexually assaulted, brutally murdered, and wiped out entire Greek villages and the most vital parts of the country. Then, as if all this misery wasn’t enough, the Greek junta or Regime of the Colonels dominated the country with far-right despotism in the 1970s, suppressing public opinion, killing dissidents, and forcing the population to follow their dictates. After the Colonels, Greece transitioned to democracy, but from 2009 to 2018, the Government-Debt Crisis infuriated citizens to the point where clashes with police on the streets of Athens or other cities were regular. Today, in 2023, Turkey’s constant threats from its undemocratic ruler Erdogan put Greece in peril of a new terrible war. Now that you know why Greece is a “hot” spot, you can see with us why Tassos Missouras’ art contains some very specific reflections of this explosive country. Tassos Missouras’s art is characterized by a sense of distortion, surrealism, and dream-like quality. In every artwork, you’ll find something peculiar that takes you to a different realm that feels more like a dreamscape than a conventional portrait. The paintings are always imbued with an eerie atmosphere, like a veil or mist that envelops everything. The strange smoke from recent burn marks appears to suffocate human life. As a European artist, Tassos grapples with his self-perception, shaped by a legacy of powerful historical events, empires, and civilizations, and the bewildering confusion of modern-day life that is often obscure, diverse, and challenging to understand. The haze symbolizes the complex thoughts of generations of Greeks that Tassos has internalized and made his own perspective of the world. Confusion is at the center of Tassos’s art and is reflected in the use of fog, the shifting of subjects in space and time in the paintings, and the appearance of everything resembling a vivid, bloody dream that evokes voices, introduces unfamiliar people, yet leaves you with a profound feeling of disorientation. In many works, you’ll also see remnants of wars, the constant fear of wars, and the memories of wars – like a ghost haunting the characters in the paintings – as well as uniform items like German helmets, fires, and jets that bomb the imagination of the entire artwork. The female figures in the paintings also exude a militaristic vibe; they are aggressive, strong, and more powerful than any men in the scene, and they stand at attention in the center of the paintings as if they were ready to force the audience to submit and deliver a harsh, possibly violent lesson. Every child depicted in the paintings is perpetually sad and melancholy, as if someone were hurting them spiritually and preventing them from expressing their joy of life. The present day is also present in these strange memories of a shared past, resembling a sci-fi landscape where people cease to be people and instead resemble bees being farmed by an odd farmer hidden in his suit, or they resemble the dark interior of a dehumanizing industry where they appear to be abandoned mannequins. Tassos’s art is an extraordinary and powerful exploration of the artist’s subconscious, a personal journey into the unexpected facet of humanity, a creative dance between the past and the present, and a chain constructed not of rings but of people and their ghosts. Why is Tassos an artist who creates truly wonderful art? The answer is simple: you could admire his artwork for hours and become lost in his surreal landscapes searching for answers, thoughts, or ideas. And every time you do, you come away with new, insightful perspectives on the life and death of the human species. This is what truly exceptional art accomplishes – it allows you to contemplate and opens your mind, transforming you into something more than a basic person – a person who uses his own mind to examine the intricacies of the inner universe.