31 May 2016
Mario Prassinos, who was born in Istanbul into a Greek-Ottoman family and began his artistic career in Paris, among the 20th century avant-gardes. Here’s a brief look at the life of the artist!
Born into an artistic family of Greek-Italian origin in Pera, İstanbul in 1916, Mario Prassinos moved to Nanterre, France with his family when he was six years old. Surrealism was the popular art movement in Europe during his youth. Although he never received an academic art education, he continued to express his dreams in a Surrealist style.
Gravitating towards collective works after 1945, Prassinos spent the 1940s and 50s working on book illustrations and designing stage sets and costumes for the theatre. In the 1950s and 60s, he gained more individual experience amidst nature in the South of France and the island of Spetses, Greece. In the 1970s and 80s; however, he focused on the “Turkish Landscapes” and “Trees” series. Having left behind over one hundred and thirty solo exhibitions and produced rather striking and powerful works in different genres and techniques, Prassinos died in 1985 at the age of 69.
Bringing together dreams, nature, and images filtered through recollections, Prassinos’ artistic line is shaped around his memory. For him, painting is a game that contains intricacies and is a means for understanding the world, which leads him to present to viewers an original story woven with strong images. Sometimes, the foothills attain a calligraphic form and drip onto the canvas in ink, whereas at other times, faces are knotted together in his tapestries; his unparalleled black-and-white trees reveal the most straightforward explanation of life itself.
On the 100th anniversary of his birth, Mario Prassinos returned to İstanbul and his place of birth Pera, where his story began, to share, through this exhibition, the many things he took with him in his memories. Mario Prassinos, In Pursuit of an Artist: Istanbul-Paris-Istanbul exhibition took place at Pera Museum between 25 May - 14 August 2016.
Among the most interesting themes in the oeuvre of Prassinos are cypresses, trees, and Turkish landscapes. The cypress woods in Üsküdar he saw every time he stepped out on the terrace of their house in İstanbul or the trees in Petits Champs must have been strong images of childhood for Prassinos.
Three people sleeping side by side. On the uncomfortable seats of the stuffy airplane in the air. Three friends. I’m the friend in the window seat. The other two are a couple, Emre and Melisa. I’m alone, they are together. And another difference. I’ve only closed my eyes. They are asleep.
I walk over rocks hot as iron under the September sun. I can make out a few lines in the distance, and a few cracked rocks, but apart from those, not a single tree, not one plant. I have walked until I reached this hill, in the trail of the letter that hurled me once again to my home town...
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