Tsingos Thanos (1914 - 1965)

He was born in 1914 in Elefsina. He studied architecture at the National Technical University of Athens (1931-1936) and worked as an architect until 1939. His intense and adventurous life begins with the Second World War; he served in the Middle East front, got involved in the Middle East coup and was sentenced to death at first, then to life imprisonment, etc. Once he was pardoned and released (1946) he became one of the architects working on the city plan of Brasília, on Le Corbusier’s recommendation. After the end of the Brazilian project (1948), he settled in Paris, where he initially worked with the avant-garde theatre and eventually he devoted himself to painting. He had already adopted the wild lifestyle of the bohemian artists of the era, which favoured bouts of creativity, but also self-destructive tendencies.
His first solo exhibition was held in Paris (Gallerie du Siecle, 1950). More solo and group exhibitions followed in France and other European countries (the most important ones were organized in collaboration with Studio Facchetti) and due to them he was acknowledged as the most outstanding representative of the avant-garde movement of the time. He returned permanently to Athens in 1961, where he presented two solo exhibitions with moderate success.
His painting style, in history of art terms, belongs to the European trend of informel. His gestural writing and the rich colour texture create surfaces full of emotional tension. Nevertheless his works are rarely entirely abstract. Usually there are figurative subjects (landscapes, animals or flowers), which are depicted in an abstract manner, as images of a fantasy world.
The freedom and boldness of his painting style was not duly appreciated in Greece on time. Despite his productivity, he could hardly sell his works, at least not during his living years, which is why he died destitute in 1965. Later, his paintings became very popular, confirming the quality of his work, but also his myth as an artiste maudit (cursed artist).
Several exhibitions of his work were presented in Greece after his death (Athens, 1965). Retrospective exhibitions of his work were organized in 1965 (Athens Technological Institute), in 1980 (Athens National Art Gallery and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris) and in 2005 (Cultural Centre of the Municipality of Elefsina).