Achilleas Papacostas

Papacostas Achilleas
© Panagiota Skandali

Born in Athens in 1970, he studied at the Thessaloniki School of Fine Arts (1988-1989) and at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1989-1995) under Panayiotis Tetsis and Rena Papaspyrou. He pursued his studies at the Parisian École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts under Vladimir Velickovic (1996-1998) thanks to an Alexander S. Onassis Foundation scholarship. He won the 1st prize of the Jannis and Zoe Spyropoulos Foundation (1995), the Greek Ministry of Culture Melina Mercouri award in 1998 and the Academy of Athens award for new painters under the age of 40 in 2004. In 1997 he received the Grand Ρrix of the Paul Louis Weiller contest which is regularly hosted by the Ιnstitut de France. He lives and works in Athens.


On Art and His Art: Achilleas Papacostas

The painter Achilleas Papacostas describes art as an ark of energy transmitted by every work of art, which betrays its creator and stands as an emblem of his need for emotional survival. Talking about the creative process he follows, where every composition is a problem that demands a solution, he also explains his desire to preserve values of the past in his work. Defining his place among the artists of the Sotiris Felios Collection, he points out place and folk tradition as shared influences. Finally, speaking of his work Guilty Garden, which is part of the collection, he explains how this painting served as the starting point for the issues explored in his subsequent works, all of which call for the sense of freedom.

Solo Exhibitions


On the Edge of the Line National Archaeological Museum – Café Athens (curated by Giorgos Mylonas)


Daydream Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


C.K. Art Gallery (Alpha C.K. Art Gallery) Nicosia


Zoumboulakis Galleries Athens


Achilleas Papacostas: The Musical Rhythms of an Artistic Vision

Nature’s bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,
And being frank she lends to those are free.

William Shakespeare, “Sonnets, IV”

Orphism in the early 20th century attempted to bring together painting with music, calling up the entrancement exerted by its sounds. It believed that the poetics of rhythm elevate the visual surface into a painted score of musical rhythm addressed to the sense of vision. The eyes can hear! Since then, very few have consciously used the paths that Robert and Sonia Delaunay opened up in modern painting. The painter Achilleas Papacostas (Athens, 1970) is trying – unconsciously, albeit obviously. His painting brings up melodic rhythms and acoustic vibrations of a secret architecture that spreads across the surface of his painting. A chord of secret rhythms rises up from his works. Papacostas could be a musician. A surface so wisely organised, so meticulously planned, functions like Mozart’s sheet music. Based on this cerebral in advance recording of representation, the further he goes into abstraction, the more his musical architecture gains prominence as a fundamental factor in his creation.

His figures emerge from an undefined space, almost fluid and transparent, that makes them glow like fireflies. His figures lack volume; they appear one-dimensional in an unfamiliar space, cut off from the sense of time of our world and gazing into eternity. They pose with their arms crossed, attempting to freeze time, like the contemporary figure with the tight braids standing boldly head-on, or bragging that they treat it with scorn, like the other, the moonstruck with a pair of dogs which, like a vision in white, plays the femme fatale, or the one which, in traditional dress, balances anxiously on the slippery present, holding in her hand the spindle of mythical Clotho. These are the figures of a guileless and ostensibly indestructible youth, which exude the magical lyricism of our childhood decals, or overpainted photographs, or the allure of playing card figures. It is this private time of our destiny, which, as sensation or as loss, creeps in rudely inside of us, that Achilleas Papacostas comfortingly arrests.

His colours develop in iridescent hues that evoke musical tones. In a tonally-conscious way, they imbue the figures with the fragility and luminosity of a butterfly; an extraordinary transparency like they’ve been anointed with morning dew. Glimmers arise though the materiality of the paint itself rather than as representations of light reflected upon the figures. This exceptional light bestows upon them an additional glow that is almost physical, like fuzz or like pollen. It is a colourfulness of a musical scale that rises up in the painting space, unfolding – in terms of intensity and depth – multiplying layers of resonance. It is a balance a colour tones, full of almost personal hues – a type of patent or, more accurately, a special seal.

The composition of his painting is exemplary, structured architecturally. If it is missing mass and the third dimension, that is, in fact, the secret key to passing through into the fourth dimension: time – the basis of music, as well as of his personal painting musicality.

More obviously, his painted composition is organised like a musical fugue, with an internal rhythm and balance of meter in his latest works, which were exhibited under the title “Daydream”. The rhythmology of the lines and his musicality of colour are now elevated into self-contained founding elements of his artistic universe. In this series, Achilleas Papacostas gives shape to Herbert Read’s maxim that art has always been abstract and symbolic and appealed to human sensitivity through the organisation of visual and tangible emotions. In these works, a multitude of formalised elements are combined freely, and the image serves as the excuse for developing harmonies of colour.

His world now exudes a more prominent pop frame of mind (giving out a scent of David Hockney) where his new discoveries in painting are put to use more directly though his already established visual language, which is comprised of transparency and the rhythmics of colour. His painting becomes fragmentary, suggestive, ostensibly narrative, leading him, however, to the poetic world of “a land elsewhere, where Theories, and Rhythms, and Knowledge live”. This is a ‘courageous’ use of nature, which Papacostas keeps jealously in the depths of his painter’s soul, but which he no longer displays directly. He redrafts it through the use of lines and rhythmology. In the works of “Daydream”, certain elements that were contained within the works of the previous period, either as self-contained excerpts or as formal components that were functionally integrated in his figures, are creatively magnified and autonomously re-formulated.

Achilleas Papacostas is, in essence, the painter who drives the possibilities offered to him by representation to their very limits, without, however, impairing its nature. He preserves its rhythms and its lines, sensuous and deep, thickly poetic, hermetic even in his most transparent hues, luminous in his darkest tones. Most importantly, however, he brings out, in all its glory, the musicality of the rhythm of lines and colours in the syntax of his private artistic vision.


Nikos Al. Milionis
* From “Nea Efthyni” magazine, issue 10, March-April 2012.