Apostolos Koustas broadens the horizons of technique and theme
in the art of engraving

A technique of innovation and skill

Apostolos Koustas’s engraving uses as a base neither wood, nor stone, nor metal, but
cement slabs. The artist, a true craftsman, uses his own hands to carry out each stage of the
procedure of engraving without the intervention or help of other artisans or machines.
The material, in combination with the appropriate selection of paper and dyes, opens up a
wide range of expressive means which remain, however, inextricably intertwined with Apostolos
Koustas’s inspiration: a new sense of proportion, which at times touches upon the monumental;
an austere and priestly line; a density and warmth of texture and colour.

Poetry of fear and joy

Apostolos Koustas’s themes are of a dual and dramatic nature
His oeuvre is steeped in a sense of trial and deterioration, often expressing fear, pity, the
agony of disintegration or petrification with amazing vividness, both in the face of man and of
nature. Here both the animate and inanimate – the bird, the forest, the boat – seem doomed to
slip into the slumber of decay or charring. It is the slow metallization of life.
His works also breathes with an epic brightness, a primeval vitality, everything ready to
bubble forth once again due to the dynamic economy of the drawing, the force of the work,
which is sometimes imposingly calm, like in the simple landscape of Messolonghi or in the
Trojan Horse, full of the embarrassed innocence of a child’s toy in spite of – or because of – the
threat of the spears pointed at it.

The ethic of cyclical time

Apostolos Koustas’s works have a mythical dimension. The artist revives, with no intention
of being anecdotal, some of the great figures or moments of Greek mythology. In addition, even
his themes inspired by nature or the Byzantine tradition take on a mythological air.
This tendency becomes even more pronounced when the austere, and oftentimes archaic,
drawing bears a firm resemblance to prehistoric frescoes and Neolithic signs and symbols.

Apostolos Koustas’s oeuvre seems to commune with primordial sources, ever vivid, enhanced
by his restless presence. A seeming lack of timeliness veils, in essence, a more profound
timelessness. And the flow of time – its permanence – is depicted with grooves, positioned in
such a way that they too take on a cosmic dimension.

However, Apostolos Koustas’s basic structural element is his use of etching. The engraved
line is an etch but also emerges as the continuation of multiple etches. These etches are
simultaneously the marks of a entombed past, the expression of the demanding presence of
memory and the consecutive points of reference on which one’s art and fate are built and brought

Thus, Apostolos Koustas’s materials, themes and drawings all come together from the intensity
of two seemingly opposite poles: stone/paper, roughness/smoothness, hardness/softness,
decay/vitality, austerity/fluidity, the archaic/the modern, loneliness/communion. The joining of
these imposing elements is brought about by Apostolos Koustas’s skill and sincerity, leaving a
trace of the magical and vital upon us.

Christophe Bacquaert