Constantinos Xenakis

Constantin Xenakis (Cairo, 1931) lives and works in Paris and Athens. He studied interior design at the École Supérieure des Arts Modernes (Paris, 1956-1957) and painting at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière (Paris, 1957-1961). Xenakis developed a singular visual language borrowing from the symbols and codes of everyday life such as traffic signs, alchemy, the zodiac, mathematical and chemical symbols and the letters of the alphabet, including Egyptian hieroglyphics. From his electro-kinetic constructions and happenings in the ‘60s to works on paper and canvas, Xenakis has explored various kinds of art forms, creating a personal universe that negotiates the processes of semiology, of symbols and communication. He has exhibited internationally. Recent solo shows include: Museum of Byzantine Culture of Thessaloniki (2010); Kalfayan Galleries (Athens, 2010); Museum of Modern Greek Art (Rhodes, 2006); State Museum of Contemporary Art (SMCA) (Thessaloniki, 2003) and Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art (Thessaloniki, 2003). Recent group shows include: Les Années Magique: Roma-Paris-Berlin, Kalfayan Galleries (Athens, 2009); The Years of Defiance-The Art of the '70s in Greece (EMST, Athens, 2005); Athens by Art (2004).


Work without end and without limits


My recent work is the result of a dialogue

that I created with symbols and signs/codes.

Their defining character is arbitrary and permits me

a philosophical reading of the world. When

the dialogue begins, a strategy is established that

creates criteria that are more aesthetic than artistic.


In the past, I finished a work when I

felt that I had communicated whatever was essential.

Today, this procedure has proved to be obsolete.

The world of symbols is a Logos that surpasses

the aesthetic.


When I am exhausted

I stop working.


When asked, “Is the work finished?”

I reply, “YES, BUT”.


The YES means that I consider it aesthetically rich

in order to converse with the pubic

and that I can present it as it is.


The BUT means that I can indefinitely pursue

the dialogue with the empire of signs

and symbols.


I want to be the hostage of a cosmic fate

and its chaotic state.


Here, the idea of time disappears.


It is a Logos, a window open to a world

that is evolving, where each moment is perfect and

expresses itself in a universe that is ontologically open.



Constantin Xenakis




Papyrus No. 25, 1984, mixed media, 46 x 46 x 46 cm, Courtesy Kalfayan Galleries, Athens-Thessaloniki

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 Biennale de Lyon