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“Prosfigosimo: A stamp for the refugees of Cyprus, the story of a symbol”

Opening on 27.03.2023, House of the Citizen  

  • Speech by Ms. Irene Orati, Art Historian, President of A. Tassos Foundation


The A. Tassos Visual Arts Company was established in 1986, a year after the death of A. Tassos.

It was created by friends and collaborators, following an initiative by the artist’s wife Loukia Maggiorou. The Company houses the artist’s archive, artifacts, documents, tools and photographs and the tables on which he carved and inked his woodcuts. Furthermore, the wooden plates of his woodcuts are stored there.

In the 37 years of its operation, the Company has been working to promote the main purpose of its statutes: the preservation and showcasing of the engraver’s work.

The first part concerns the preservation and good use of the artist’s comprehensive archives, housed by the Company. Through this, new research in his work is supported, and the importance of Greek print making in general, is highlighted.

As far as his woodcuts are concerned, they are all now part of the Greek National Gallery collection, following a donation the artist made in 1985, of 150 art works.

The second part concerns the continuous promotion of his work through collaborations such as the one currently taking place in Cyprus.

I should mention here the recent retrospective exhibition of the artist at Benakis Museum in 2015 as well as many thematic and group exhibitions that are constantly organised with the collaboration of the Company.

In addition, the Company’s major achievements include the installation of the monumental triptych “Epitaph” at the Nikaia metro station in Athens in 2019.

In a few days, on 6 April, an exhibition on A. Tassos will open at the Municipal Gallery of Corfu.


  1. Tassos’ relationship with Cyprus dates back to the 1960s. It started as a simple collaboration, developed into a friendly relationship of trust and was sealed over time.

Since 1957 he has been designing stamps for the Hellenic Post Office. It is then that the new technique of offset printing is applied for the first time at the large printing house of “Aspiotis – Elkas” in Athens. Since 1961, he also undertakes the design of the stamps of the Cypriot state as its permanent collaborator.

In the following decade, in 1971, he held his first exhibition in Cyprus, at the “Hilton” in Nicosia. Consciously refraining from any exhibition activity since 1967, following the establishment of the junta in Greece, he had retired, working mainly on book illustration. Patroklos Stavrou, Deputy Minister to the President of the Republic of Cyprus and a friend of A. Tassos, took the initiative of organizing the exhibition. In this exhibition, in addition to the woodcuts, all 38 stamps of the Republic of Cyprus that he had designed until then, were exhibited for the first time.

The coup d’état of July 1974 left a violent impression on A. Tassos, as a result of which he carved the emblematic woodcut “Cyprus 1974” that same summer. Almost immediately after, he adapted this woodcut into the shape of a postage stamp.

This stamp is mandatory as an additional postal fee on every letter or parcel in Cyprus, has a very low value (today 0.02 euros) and has a twofold purpose: the collection of resources for the needs of the refugee fund, but also to act as a global reminder of the Cyprus problem. This particular stamp was released on 10 January 1977 and has been printed continuously to this day, having now been called the “refugee stamp”.

In 1989, the retrospective exhibition of A. Tassos, which was held in 1987 at the Greek National Gallery, was transferred to Famagusta Gate in Cyprus. On this occasion, the wife of the artist, Loukia Maggiorou donates the wooden plaque of the work to the Ministry of Education of Cyprus.

The Refugee Stamp exhibition that we are launching today includes works and documents from Cyprus and Greece, all connected to the history of this symbolic art work. The woodcut, the wooden plate, the stamp, his drawings, envelopes, correspondence and record of the event.

On behalf of the A.T. Visual Arts Company, I extend many thanks to Mrs. Maria Paphitis for her original idea, her generous cooperation, the speed of the organization and her professionalism. Personally, I am very happy about this type of exhibitions, because they examine the work of A. Tassos from a new perspective and at the same time give us the opportunity to exhibit unknown works.

  • A Tassos (1914-1985)

Cyprus 1974

Engraved woodblock and ink

70,7 x 70 cm

State collection of Cypriot Art

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