Tsingos produced close to two thousand paintings. It has taken me twenty years to trace eight hundred paintings to private and public collections scattered throughout Paris, London and Athens. I never find one without emotion. Curiosity and the anticipated joy of discovery often make me move appointments forward that I’m too impatient to wait for.
I have always experienced these discoveries as moments of pure bliss, almost as moments of intimacy with the artist. Each painting reveals his feelings, his joys and his sorrows and betrays his conquests to me.
This condemned man, this escapee become, but more surely born, painter had chosen liberty and independance as his sole guiding lights.
A qualified architect, Tsingos designed homes and hospitals in Athens until the war.
In 1939, he joined the army, then, fleeing the German Occupation of Greece, he joined the Allies in the Near East. Denounced for his ” activism “, he was condemned to death. He spent two months awaiting his execution behind bars. The verdict was then commuted to ten years of imprisonment, then dropped at the end of the war two years later.
In 1946 , he left Greece for Brazil where he began working with architects in charge of the Brasilia project, at the recommendation of Le Corbusier.
In July of 1947, he came to Paris where he met his compatriot, Christine Mavraoïdj, who became his companion and later, his wife.
Towards 1949-1950, Tsingos began his career as a painter, doing backgrounds for the Théatre de la Gaîté at Montparnasse which he had bought with his wife, Christine, an actress.
In 1953, he had his first personal exhibition at Studio FACCHETTI in Paris. The art critic, Charles ESTIENNE, defined him as a ” tachiste ” painter. It is also a gestural, lyrical style which transcends reality. Somewhere between representational and abstract art, his subjects are suggested in the thick paste worked by his fingers without brushes or preliminary drawings.
In 1954, he participated in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles.
His wife Christine, from whom he separated in 1954, describes his work as follows :
“ Tsingos painted on the floor and several canvases at a time. He laid his canvases out beside dozens of enormous tubes of color, a bit like an arsonist setting fire to a town. He threw paint down with a spoon, spread it with his hands or a knife and painted with the tube that he pressed, painting with his entire body. But he never ceased to be the master within the space of this sort of whirlwind he created. We spectators watched on in fascination, but he knew perfectly well where he was going. At times he would shake the canvas, at others, flip it over completely and at others, barely tip it, but when he had finished, when everything had found its place, it was all in perfect order. ”
1955 : Galerie Kléber Exhibition in Paris.
1956 : Galerie Iris Clert Exhibition in Paris.
The artist moved to rue Henri Barbusse. Iris Clert described her visit to the big room off the courtyard which became his studio.
“ The show was stupifying ! Canvases blotched with paint were strewn all over the floor, covered the walls and invaded the ceiling. Half-emptied paint tubes were piling up in the corners. I didn’t know where to step. ” Tsingos never used brushes. He worked animals out of the paste with his hands. It was ” fantastic. I’ll exhibit Tsingos in October, ” she told herself, ” The title of the exhibition will be Micro-cosmos. Everything was shaping up well, then, as usual, Tsingos ran out of paintings. The day before the preview opening, I found him at home painting the last of the canvases at record speed. They were still wet. And given the thickness of the paint, it was going to take them months to dry. ”
The day of the preview opening, guests left with Tsingos flower petals painted on their dresses.
1957 : he participated in the ” Comparaison ” Salon in Paris. His paintings were shown in Room 3, that of the abstract artists. In fact, the artist had never stopped doing figurative representation. Realism served as his basis. Out of this construction of insects, animals, sea life, ports or flowers he was producing, sprang a new reality, more informal and violent, almost despairing, which reflected with his inner perceptions.
1957/1958 : The artist spent a few months in Paris, then took a first trip to Greece. He began imitating ” peinture d’arrachage ” techniques which consist in the cursory completion of a painting in thick paste. Tsingos’ technique was to take a clean canvas, giving it merely a background in oil, and press the two paintings together hard until they became imbued with each other. The result was two paintings highly similar on which the artist had only a few touch-ups to make.
1959 : The artist exhibited in Cannes at Gallery 65. He spent the summer at Saint- Paul de Vence where he created a number of paintings which sold quickly in a climate favorable to him. Three galleries in London exhibited his works the same year : the Tooth & Son Gallery, Hanover Gallery and Gallery One.
1960 : An exhibition entirely devoted to him at Galerie des Quatre Saisons in Paris. He showed 250 paintings, primarily of flowers but in which his forms had changed. His style had simplified and the motifs had become more distinctly drawn. The backgrounds are no longer mixed into the composition of the work but aim to bring the subject into clearer focus by their simplicity. Each line, each curve, each accentuation appears as an essential, indispensible element. Through this stripping, denuding almost, of his work, Tsingos managed to translate the strong, impetuous reactions of his heart and senses into one simple element.
Galerie Balzac Exhibition in Paris along with another in Athens where the artist was spending more and more of his time.
1961/1962 : Galerie d’Arte Exhibition in Milano. Tsingos had developed severe stomach pains from a lifetime of heavy drinking, which didn’t prevent him from continuing to destroy himself with alcohol.
1963 : His production capacity diminishes. Galerie Zyogos in Athens organizes an exhibit entirely devoted to him.
1964 : Tsingos comes to Paris to bid farewell to his friends, then returns to Athens. He hopes that the end will catch him unawares while he is working. A few paintings of the monuments of Athens, marvellously demonstrative of his love for his native land, have come down to us from this period of little productivity.
1965 : Thanos Tsingos dies on January 26, 1965.