Konstantinos Kerestetzis

Kerestetzis Konstantinos

Born in Adriani (Drama) in 1969, he was first taught Painting by Kostas Meimaroglou and later Kostas Papatriantafyllopoulos. He was an Athens School of Fine Arts student of Chronis Botsoglou. He also studied Printmaking under Thanassis Exarchopoulos (1989-1994). Between 1993 and 1998 he lived in Spain to delve into the Spanish School of Painting at the Prado Museum. Works of by him can be found in many private collections and museums in Greece and Spain. He lives and works in Athens.


Solo Exhibitions


Watercolours from the Mount Athos Proussis 17 Athens


Portraits Municipal Art Gallery Mykonos


Portraits Chalkos Gallery Thessaloniki


Chalkos Gallery Thessaloniki


Constantinople Sismanoglio Megaron Istanbul


Gavras Gallery Athens


Venice Gavras Gallery Athens


Fener-Balat Istanbul Gavras Gallery Athens


Fener-Balat Istanbul Tuyap Art Fair Istanbul (Gavras Gallery)


Study at the Prado 1990-2007 Byzantine & Christian Museum Athens (curated by Eleni Margari)


Retrospective exhibition The Hellenic Centre London


Painting Epsilon Art Gallery Thessaloniki


Istanbul Gavras Gallery Athens


Painting Gavras Gallery Athens


Hydra Gavras Gallery Athens


The Personal Military Camp Art Space 24 Athens


Painting Art Space 24 Athens


Portraits Art Hall at the Arts School Toledo


Landscapes Art Space 24 Athens


In Istanbul (In the City)

Istanbul, crossroads of civilizations, a city with a very long, exciting history, a point where Europe and Asia encounter and merge, attracts every visitor, who in its paved lanes, its noisy streets, its magnificent monuments, in its atmosphere and its scents, discovers familiar elements that fascinate them and stir thoughts and emotions. Istanbul, with its many faces, charmed, for many centuries now, especially the artists. Already from the 15th century painters-travelers have visited the city and from the 17th century onwards they have imprinted on their works not only its streets and its street-plan, but also its customs and rites. The European diplomats of the 18th century appointed the so called Peintres de Bosphore (painters of the Bosphorus) to capture the image of Istanbul and the Orientalist painters saw the city through their own, romantic eyes.

“[…].we issued into Phanaris.[…]. It consists of houses of stone, of considerable architectural pretension; many of which have balconies sustained by brackets cut into steps, or ornamented with sculpture. Others more ancient, recall the narrow fronts of the small French mansions of the middle ages-half fortresses and half-dwellings”. (Théophile Gautier, “Constantinople of To-Day”, translated by Robert Howe Gould, London 1854).

In Phanar (Fener) settled also Konstantinos Kerestetzis this second time that he came to Istanbul. Phanar does no longer possess the bourgeois shine it used to reflect in the middle of the 19th century. It is a neighbourhood that bears unaltered by time the memories and reminiscences of the Greeks, although today the visitor experiences there a more humble and simple reality. This reality chose Konstantinos to depict in his paintings, to settle his easel before it, in the streets, and picture it with sincerity and straightforwardness.

Contrary to the travellers of past centuries, even to some contemporary painters who, passing from Istanbul, invent a work of art representing usually its monuments, its minarets or its sea, K. Kerestetzis was incorporated into the life of the community that he painted. He became for them the painter that placed his easel in Phanar, he lived among the people he portrayed, he stayed in the houses he depicted, he walked the streets he represented. This particular choice of his endowed his paintings with an exceptional sensitivity and honesty. With his brush he searches the truth of the image, he approaches the deeper beauty of the dwellings, the children’s thoughtlessness, the inhabitants’ traces on the streets (shops, cars, laundry). He cannot do otherwise. He was welcomed in their houses, he has chatted with the shopkeepers, he has joked with the children, he has observed the women seated on the doorway.

Light and colour are a constant concern of his. In this series of works the colour obtains a deep oriental tone. It bustles with life and tension as it depicts the rare sight of the neighbourhood of Phanar, infiltrated through the eyes of the painter. Every brushstroke, each colour, imprints in the canvas an aspect of everyday life, a pictorial speculation, all incorporated in a completed ensemble. On the other side, the influence of light on the works of Konstantinos is crucial. He does not only depict the different hours and moments of the day, but he also reflects with every painting on the manner of its execution, its influence on colour, and he renders the viewer a companion to his personal development as a painter.

Special parts of this work are the portraits. He captures, with great sensitivity, and depicts straightforwardly and aptly, the personality of the sitter, through a glance, a movement of the head, an expression. Owner of the qualities of the great masters of portraiture, Kerestetzis «converses» with his models, he respects and represents their uniqueness, combining it with his own personal artistic manner.

Nowadays it is no longer easy for an artist to work like the ‘travelers’ of the past centuries did. It is impossible, there is no time and desire to act like that. The conveniences, also, that technology offers to men, artists or not (internet, digital images), allow them to ‘travel’ around the world, and provides them with countless pictures of places and landscapes to fill their minds and canvases. But the direct contact, the activation of all the senses, not only of vision, are inexhaustible sources of the artistic inspiration. And only through them a work of art can guide its viewer, from a safe and infallible path, to Istanbul.

Dr Eleni Margari

Art Historian
* From the catalogue of Konstantinos Kerestetzis’s exhibition “Fener-Balat Istanbul“, Tuyap Art Fair, Istanbul, 2010.