Kostas Loustas (1933-)
Kostas Loustas was born in Athens in 1933. He studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts (1953-58), with Yiannis Moralis and Michalis Tombros being amongst his professors and mentors. He grew up in Florina, a town with a rich artistic history in the north-west of Greece, and he exhibited his first works there in 1957. He was the youngest member of a bohemian group of friends with whom he discussed art, literature and poetry. His love for music was inspired by his mother, the Greek violinist Mary Galan, who in 1936, just after a few years of an unhappy marriage, abandoned her young family and fled abroad to pursue a career as the orchestra leader at the Sydney Opera House and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra in Australia.
Kostas’ artistic inclinations were evident from a very young age, but his father and step-mother did not share his concerns. In the early 1950s, following a trip to India where he met his mother for the first time in fifteen years, he secretly left Florina, and hitch-hiked all the way to Athens in order to take the entrance exam at the Athens School of Fine Arts where he was admitted at the top of his class.
In the early 1960s, he moved with his wife Anastasia to New York. Throughout the 1960s, he was represented in group and solo exhibitions by Di Salvo, Chase, Chevance, Paollilo and Saldinger galleries in New York, and in London by Zaydler Gallery (1969). His collaboration with Galerie Internationale on Madison Avenue in New York, where he held his first solo exhibition in 1972, continued for several years following his permanent return to Thessaloniki, Greece in the early 1980s.
The Eggonopoulos and Syllogi Galleries in Athens host solo exhibitions of his work in 1980 and 1983 respectively. In 1991, the Municipality of Thessaloniki honours his thirty-year artistic presence in the city with a major retrospective show at the Vafopoulio Cultural Centre. In 1993, with his series of ‘80+1 Portraits of Thessaloniki Personalities’, exhibited by the Municipal Gallery in Thessaloniki, he is honoured by the mayor and the state for his contribution to the Greek Arts and Letters. In 1999, the London art gallery of Paul Hawkins in Mayfair host a solo exhibition of his Further solo exhibitions organized by the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki include the series of still-lives entitled ‘Elgar 96’, inspired by his love for classical music and the violin in particular, a series of nudes entitled ‘Variations 2000’, and ‘Amelia 2004’, the last of which is a tribute to his three-year old grand-daughter Amelia.
He is a member of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece, and up to 2008, he had been on the board of directors of the Greek State Museum of Contemporary Art. He is a regular member of the committee of the ‘Demetria’ Festival, which is held annually in Thessaloniki. He has published poetry and many articles in national newspapers as both author and critic, and has given numerous interviews on the prinicipal State and independent Greek radio and television channels. In 1977 he received an award from the Society of Greek Writers in Athens. His autobiographical book entitled One hundred and more rings for princes was published by ‘Ianos’ Publications in 2005.
Christou, Chrysanthos (Professor of History of Art and Academician), Loustas - ‘80+1 Portraits of Thessaloniki Personalities, catalogue, published by the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki (1993), introductory note, pp. 51-53:
‘These are works which can hardly be classified as traditional portraiture, for not only do they show us the whole figure rather than just the face, but … they also attempt to go further and to portray all the dimensions of each subject – professional, social, intellectual, spiritual. This series selected some of the best-known personalities from the intellectual elite of Thessaloniki … this series includes no political figures, but … university professors, poets, writers, musicians, actors, artists in various fields… .
Loustas’s earliest works already reveal his preference for impressionistic values in landscapes, folklore studies and interiors, while his nudes and portraits display a more personal more expressionistic vocabulary. Thus, both relatively early works such as Lorry outside a garage (1957), Barrels at the port (1960), or Olive tree (1972), as well as later works like The Hamodrakas at Aretsou, Thessaloniki (1980) and Ammouliani island (1983) all move in the pure impressionist style with the emphasis on atmosphere, on the decisive role of light, the rendering of the mobile, the changing, the transitory, that is, impression. In certain cases, and especially in the still lives, his study of the works of Cezanne is evident, while several of his interiors reflect the Fauvism of the period 1905-1910.
In his portraits … Loustas does not restrict himself to the impressionist idiom. He starts from a different point of view, and quickly proceeds to an even greater exploitation first of schematic figures and then of imposed expressionist forms … In this series of works, while the familiar expressionist elements of deformation, energetic use of contrasting colours, and deficiency of space were not absent, we also have a new series of purely personal features. First and foremost of these is the primordial role of linear forms and somewhat restrained deformation, the conjunction of pictorial and abstract features and neutral space.’
Review in the newspaper Newsday, 25 September 1964, by V. Sheward.
Review in the newspaper New York Post, 10 November 1964, by C. Willard.
Feature on the artist by Gallery Chevance (New York), The New York Times, 16 June, 1964.
Review in the British periodical Arts Review, 6 December 1969, vol. 21, no. 24, by Lorraine Craig.
Visual Arts –Thessalonian Artists, catalogue of The Collection of The Municipal Art
Gallery of Thessaloniki, (Thessaloniki, 1988), with text by Prof. C. Christou.
Skaltsa, M., The Collection of the Educational Foundation of the National Bank of Greece (Thessaloniki, 1990).
Loustas-30 years, solo exhibition catalogue published by the Vafopoulio Cultural Centre (Thessaloniki) and the Municipality of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki, 1991), 44 pages, with text by Prof. M. Papanikolaou.
80+1 Portraits of Thessaloniki Personalities, solo exhibition catalogue published (in Greek and English) by the Municipal Art Gallery and the Municipality of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki, 1993), 230 pages, with texts by Profs. C. Christou, K. Kilessopoulou, M. Papanikolaou and E. Georgiadou-Koundoura.
Papanikolaou, M., "The Blue Horse": Subjects in the History and Criticism of Art (Thessaloniki, 1994), pages 357-60.
The Collection of Sotiris Tsoukalis, published by the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki, 1996).
Aspects of Artistic Creation in Thessaloniki after 1960, group exhibition catalogue, texts by art historians M. Papanikolaou, K. Kilesopoulou and A. Sahini published by the State Museum of Contemporary Art (Thessaloniki, 1997).
Elgar '96, solo exhibition catalogue published by the Vafopoulio Cultural Centre and the Municipality of Thessaloniki (1998), 56 pages.
Komini-Dialeti, D. (ed.), Dictionary of Greek artists (from the 16th to the 20th centuries) (Athens, 1998), vol. 2: Kostas Loustas, pages 435-6.
The Collection of the Florina Museum of Contemporary Art, Part 1 (Thessaloniki, 1999).
Modern Greek Paintings from the Collection of George Kitis (Thessaloniki, 1999).
Papanikolaou, M. (ed.), History of Art in Greece (Athens, 1999), vol. 1: Kostas Loustas, page 288.
Variations 2000, solo exhibition catalogue published by the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki, 2000), 96 pages, with text by Prof. E. Georgiadou-Koundoura.
Amelia 2004, solo exhibition catalogue published by the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki, 2005), 88 pages, with texts by P. Manakou-Satrazani, director of the Municipal Art Gallery, and E. Kokkini-Kaplani, art historian and curator of the Municipal Art Gallery.
Information provided by Dr. Mimi Loustas, daughter of the artist