Misolonghi. The 1950s. Fuzzy memories from a burdened past: the white stone of
neoclassical houses with damp red tile roofs; reflections of water on wide open
spaces; a flurry of colour in the line of the lagoon echoing the line of the River
Aracynthos; the grey and green of springtime from sea level, from the eye level of a
young boy.

Misolonghi: a passageway of forms and shapes, frayed strains of profound voices
endlessly insisting we hearken to age-old tale of the tragic Meleager, son of Oeneus, a
torch blazing in the night, at the mercy of the wind, asking for his mother Althea in
the windless air of Calydon. A song of human fate in the darkness and the light.

I have the feeling that from all the passages of sounds, forms and colours, Apostolos
Koustas, born very close to the temple of the sacred city of Calydon, retained the
element of secrecy of the myth that links human life to things, that links the creator to
creations. Shuddering from the threat of perishability, the artist’s strong sense
bewitches the magical archetypal icon, which seems to emerge from the depths of
time, as he endeavours to erect form, breaking the barriers of time and place, pushing
aside corrosive and contrary powers that shatter its integrity. Every journey reveals
the soul of a new contribution to the collective expression of the world.

Apostolos Koustas’s present ‘revelation of the soul’ attempts to assimilate and
interpret the artistic expression of a new world that attempts to subjugate the mythical
element to the revealing and pure truth. He defines the relation between man and
things in another dimension and urges us to look beyond things: it is Byzantine Art
that goes beyond the visions of the apparent and aspires to conceive the concept, the
visible vehicle being the icon. It has an immediate sense of the material and
simultaneously intuits the concept: a symbol of the beginning and the end.

Apostolos Koustas possess a deep knowledge of human emotions and the
manifestations of epic, lyrical or tragic magnificence (like the Byzantine artist, who,
through abstraction, tries to reveal the certitude of the indestructibility of the Divine)
and through his own abstraction respects the cohesive internal structure of the
universal myth. He does not distort it. He employs the symbols of early Christian art
as tried and tested refractions, traces of the steady course of man’s odyssey. He does
not warp their earlier meanings, nor does he cut them off from the Christian axis; he
but extends and recycles these symbols into eternity. ΙΧΘΥΣ (ancient Greek word for
fish) is not only the depiction of sacred worship in Egypt and Syria, nor just the
acronym for the Greek words for Christ, which enjoyed widespread popularity in
early Christian art and literature. It is also man’s link to life, a guiding light of myth in
a unified interchange between the secret rhythm that rings through its coexistence
with man. The peacock is part of this eternal rhythm, a symbol of immortality and
Paradise (of the garden of serene co-existence). The same goes for the Cross, the most
sacred symbol of Passion, deeply rooted in the life and faith of Christianity; it is a
sign of uplifting and hope, the Wood and Tree of our lives according to the unrivalled
Byzantine musician, Romanos the Melodos.

All the engraver’s themes embrace symbolic mythology. He juxtaposes the visible
and the implied: Hermes and Angel; Gaia and the Virgin Mary holding the Christ
child (the archetype of maternity in Christianity); Vellerenfontis, who slew the
Chimera, and St George who killed the dragon (the battle of good and evil, the
destruction or continuance of the secret rhythm in the function of the myth); the
victorious Hercules against river god Achelous and Saint Demetrios, the deliverer of
Byzantine Thessalonica from its invaders. The austere figure of the saint guides us to
the centre of ecumenical Christian humanism, but at the same time also refers to the
value of classical writings that the Byzantines diffused to the West through their
manuscripts. One such sample can be found in the manuscript of the Cremastos
Monastery from the 12th century, a testimony to the ancestral concern to salvage and
diffuse Greek classical literature.

The Divine Humiliation depicts the dimension of life, in fact, of life eternal, in its
endless struggle between the perishable and the imperishable, in the expression of
tragic and intangible spirituality.

Apostolos Koustas’s optimistic and bright outlook does not estrange him from the
well-known and established idiom of his creative expression. His art penetrates and
surpasses his object of study, elevating it to the level of his secret communion with
life, the secrets of Nature and man’s inspiration, irrevocably, unvaryingly and
temperately introducing it into the secret rhythm of the universal inspiration of Art.

Vasilis Katsaros - Byzantinist Professor of the Philosophical School of AUT