As a child, Tassos took painting lessons from the artist G. Costaki. In 1930, when he was sixteen, he attended the School of Fine Arts in Athens which had accepted him as a student. He studied sculpture and painting there, taking classes at the workshops of tutors Th. Thomopoulou, O. Argyrou and K.Partheni. From 1933 until his graduation from the institution in 1939, he attended engraving lessons at G. Kefallinou’s workshop, a tutor who was also a curator. As of 1930, Tassos became a member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), originally joining the youth wing of the party (Young Communist League of Greece or OKNE) before becoming a full-fledged member. After the declaration of the Greek-Italian war in 1940, Tassos and many other students of G. Kefallinos produced propaganda posters meant to animate the public. In the years of the Occupation that followed, he joined the United Panhellenic Organization of Youth (EPON) and the artistic faction of the National Liberation Front (EAM) in order to continue the (illegal) production of the anti-conqueror propaganda.
Tassos had a particular love of books and the graphic arts. In 1939, after his graduation from ASKT, he was already designing book covers and jewelry for the literary magazine ‘New Focus’. Immediately following the liberation of the country, he took over as artistic director of the publishing house ‘The New Books’ founded by the Communist Party in 1945. The house closed in 1948; thereafter Tassos began collaborating with the School Book Publishing Organization (OESB) which became the Textbook Publishing Organization (OEDB). The fruits of this collaboration, many illustrated books for Primary and Secondary School, also include the first reader for the sixth from of Primary School published in 1949. In 1948, he became an artistic consultant for the lithograph workshop ‘Aspiotis-Elka’ and from 1954 until 1967, he made stamps for the Hellenic Postal Service, at first using the technique of coloured woodcarving and then with the offset method. Additionally,from 1962 until his death, he designed stamps for the Republic of Cyprus. In 1959, he became the director of the Department of Graphic Arts at the Athenian Institute of Technology, where he taught until 1967.
With work spanning five decades, Tassos’s complete body of projects and artistic endeavours can be differentiated by style modules and thematic choices that correspond with specific, easily recognizable time periods. Preferring woodcutting above all other means, he used pieces of wood that were sloping or angled to express himself artistically, a conscious decision that slowly established his personal modus operandi. He participated in the engraving workshop at the Athens School of Fine Arts, that was reorganized in 1932 by his former tutor Kefallinos, teaching the art of simple, pure forms, the commitment to the essentials of a composition and the appreciation for the traditional art of books, which he loved. Using broad lines, he carved out a series of themes from everyday life, trying not to embellish his work. In 1947, he met the painter and engraver D. Galani, an encounter that broadened his horizons, exposing him to the world of French engraving and current European trends in the field of art. The period 1946-1952 saw the artist produce his first nude and still life portraits and landscapes; he also tried his hand at and discovered the possibilities of etching and began to use colour in his compositions. This period led him to the next series of works, printed for the most part in colour, themed around the life of farmers in the Peloponnese (1953-1960).
In the years that followed (1960-1967), Tassos removed complementary elements from his works, focusing primarily on his execution of the human form; appearing now all over the surface of his pieces. At the same time, he gradually stopped using colour , engraving on wood panels that were becoming bigger and bigger. His ‘White-Black 2’ period (1967-1974) – named by the artist himself – consisted of works comprising social protests – visual recordings of events he had seen and that shocked him. These works are distinguished for his dynamic presentation of the theme and the absolute dedication they showed for the people who fought against injustice, rebelling against wrongdoing. In subsequent years, Tassos split his artistic efforts between illustrated albums completed with woodcuts, wood carving wall art and designing smaller pieces with more tranquil themes, many of which were printed using traditional lithographic methods.
Anastasios Alevizos, Untitled, 1968, Woodcut, 56 x 35 cm