Xenakis Constantin (1931 - 2020)

He was born in 1931 in Cairo (Egypt), where he took his first steps in painting. He went to Paris (1956-61) to study architecture and interior design at the École Supérieure des Arts Modernes and painting at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.
At first he was influenced by lyrical abstraction and informel, but soon enough he began to incorporate objects in his work and experiment with motion, light and sound, by organizing environments with electro-kinetic constructions, often involving large doses of action, spectacle and participation. Before the end of the '60's, he had already begun to engage in the most distinctive subject of his mature period: codes, signs and symbols that convey messages and determine ways of communication. Since then, his research and artistic proposals have revolved around this field.
He uses many different types of visual media, either in three-dimensional constructions and installations, or in flat compositions. His personal semiotics is inspired by contemporary life, and from writing systems of old civilizations. His work reveals a continuous state of opposition to established forms, without ceasing to be in dialogue with the cultural past.
His first solo exhibition was held in Sweden (Södertälje Konsthall, 1969). In 1970 he went to Berlin on a DAAD grant, where he taught at the Schiller College and at the Hochschule für bildende Künste. Approximately at the same time, he presented his first solo exhibition in Athens (Goethe Institute, 1971), which functioned as a daring intervention, both artistically and politically, during the years of the Greek military junta. In 1973 he settled permanently in France, taught at the École Normale Supérieure de l'Enseignement Technique (Cachan), participated in educational committees and presented his work in many solo and group exhibitions worldwide. In 1996 he was awarded the ‘Pierre Delmas’ prize by the Institut de France.
After 1995 his visits to Greece became more frequent and he gradually started to spend his time between Paris and Athens. In 1996, he presented the retrospective exhibition The Return of the Artist: 1958-1996 in Alexandria and Cairo, to commemorate his egyptian connection. He exhibited his autobiographical series The Book of My Life in three parts (1995, 1997, 2003) in Greece, while in 2003 he organized a retrospective exhibition, including works of the last 20 years (State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki).
Two monographs have been published on his work so far in the greek language (1995 and 2009).