Fotopoulos Vassilis (1934 - 2007)

Born in Kalamata in 1934, he got his first painting lessons locally from the artist Vangelis Vlachos. He was also initiated to Byzantine religious painting through frequent visits to the nearby Voulkanou Monastery. After his father was killed in the Civil War, he moved with his mother and younger brother, Dionyssis, to Athens.
Soon he started making stage sets for various theatrical productions. In 1958, the director of the National Opera, Costis Bastias, commissioned him to design the sets and costumes for Pergolesi’s opera La serva padrona. His collaboration with the National Opera continued until 1960, when he embarked on a series of travels to foreign cities to study the developments in visual art and the theatre. He returned to Greece in 1962 and worked as stage designer for Beautiful City, a 1962 production by Theodorakis, Bost and Cacoyannis). He also worked for the sets of Elia Kazan’s 1963 Oscar-winning film America, America. In 1964 he was awarded himself an Oscar for Best Art Production for M. Cacoyannis’s Zorba the Greek. For the next ten years until the end of the Colonels’ Junta he stayed in America, designing for several major theatrical productions and films. Returning to Greece in a974, and up to 1996, he worked with Jules Dassin and Melina Merkouri as well as with almost all theatres and art institutions in the country.
Thanks to his background in art, he approached stage design as three-dimensional painting, avoiding solid structures in favour of lightweight materials—mainly paper, fabric, wood and plastic. In his costumes he made use of the fabrics’ potential, at the same time aiming for a connection to the characters’ social and psychological profile in each play.
His pursuit of painting became more systematic after 1980. His works are dominated by anthropocentric compositions with a strong emotional charge, and bespeak of his apprenticeship in icon-painting. The theatrical layout of the space and the postures of the bodies often reveal an extreme expression of passion.
He presented his work in solo exhibitions and took part in group shows in Greece and abroad. His works can be found in museums and private collections.