Born in Piraeus in 1974, he studied Painting in the Athens School of Fine Arts until 1999, under Dimosthenis Kokkinidis, Michalis Manoussakis, Marios Spiliopoulos and Yannis Valavanidis. Since then he gives lectures and teaches Painting and History of Art, while in the past he also worked on theatre sets. Works by him can be found in private collections in Greek and abroad. He lives and works in Piraeus.
Circle Around Fire •
B. & M. Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music•
What It Is Like to Be Back •
16 Fokionos Negri•
Ekfrasi – Yianna Grammatopoulou Gallery•
The Defense of Painting
It is a perception which frequently appears in the world views of painters and especially Greek ones: Painting should defend its “purity” – whatever that means. What is peculiar in Greece is this: the artists who profess something of the sort are not, as one would expect, devotees of some kind of self-referential abstraction which is entrenched in the orthodox tuition of High Modernism, but representatives of an unusual, by international standards, faith in the capability of the medium to do anything. In fact, if one was to look for their role models, under no circumstances would he discover Barnett Newman or Morris Louis, but instead he would come across the potent figure of Paul Cézanne. Furthermore, very little do they seem to realize that the interpretation of Cézanne’s painting in the context of the “purity” of the medium owes more to what happened in New York after the Second World War than to anything the nutty master did in Aix-en-Provence.
Our era has, if anything, dissolved any sense of “purity” – a fact that is rather positive. (It has also dissolved any whatever tendency for hierarchy or evaluation – facts that are rather negative, but this is another issue). Naturally, it could be observed that many Greek painters’ obsession with such articulations has more to do with the – belated – native conflict between institutional factors about the “value” of figurative painting in general (if one can believe this), rather than with a clear position in relation to the goals of their art. That this obsession is just a complex arises also from the fact that the painters of the world who can present powerful and poignant art, after the Second World War and up until today, by no means have remained barricaded behind the defense of their medium: Francis Bacon, Balthus, Giorgio Morandi, Lucian Freud, Gerhard Richter, David Hockney, Ronald Kitaj, Ken Kiff, Euan Uglow, Marlene Dumas, Jenny Saville, Neo Rauch. One can easily perceive how unlike they are, and how their common ground is the fathomless existential depth and the disposition to speak not only about the world but also about their art. In actual fact, these two are inseparable, and if Euan Uglow is not a storyteller but a “cosmic geometrician”, Jenny Saville is a storyteller with all the might of her art.
The reason I write all this is to say that Konstantinos Kostouros shows through his paintings a completely different intention to the one someone would expect from a graduate of A.S.F.A (Athens School of Fine Arts), who remembers very well the conflict between painting-worshippers and painting-fighters. His interest in an implicit and not a literal narration, which is built by drawing, colour and the geometry of the surface, makes him, beyond doubt, a painter. The fact, though, that he doesn’t struggle to defend some unique way of looking at the world, but is inspired by Koans and doesn’t suppress his disposition to refer to things outside painting and outside art, makes him contemplative – a characteristic which is indispensable to an artist, regardless of the medium he uses. For someone to presuppose his course would mean clipping his wings, and it would be good for everyone to observe him in all the breadth of his pursuits and not to think that the key to his idiosyncrasy is the fact that he uses oil or watercolours. I will content with just reminding you what Nicolas Bourriaud wrote: “When we stop defending painting, there will be many good painters”.