"The artist's hand as an extension of his mind, a path to discover his greatest secrets."
Titos Kontou is a painter and sculptor. Born in 1980 in Athens from Franco-Greek parents. He grew up in a modest family with a very strong taste for art. From an early age, he regularly went to see exhibitions by great masters and to feed himself on art.
Titos Kontou has had the chance to travel a lot and to be inspired by Greek culture, its mythology as well as African or South American cultures. During this period of childhood, drawing played an important role, he drew a lot and admired the impressionists, Monet, Bonard, Cézanne, Degas ... that he tried to copy by giving movement with his pencils. It was then that his passion for art was born and he decided to become a painter.
Titos Kontou has always been interested in our origins, our human nature. Where do we come from? What are we doing here? Why life and death? Where are we going? In his pictorial research, he does not try to give answers, nor to please. He's looking for a certain truth linked to our human condition and a possible harmony with nature.
Kontou retains in particular, two strong moments in his artistic career: A retrospective of his work was presented at the ARKAD Art Center in Auvillar in October 2017. He finds it an important step that shows certain recognition and at the same time allows seeing its own evolution as an artist, and in August 2018 he had the chance to be received in Artist Residency and to exhibit at the Galeria Casa Tutti in Vitoria, Brazil. This allowed him to make interesting encounters in the art world and to broaden his pictorial field to another continent.
Kontou’s art is not only art that is seen, but it’s art that is felt. And it’s not just felt…it is experienced from deep within. It’s like, what you have been longing to say, suddenly it’s expressed before you. His artwork says what humanity, in a collective manner yearn to say. Without inhibitions, without limitations, without excuses, Kontou places before you a plate of reality – and how you digest it, is entirely up to you.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. Art and especially painting have existed for thousands of years in the history of mankind. Its role has not always been the same but has always been of major importance in life in society.
Today, for me painting goes beyond its purely decorative or even social aspect.
Painting can flirt with philosophy, politics, psychology, poetry, history, make us travel through time but also affirm timeless values.
I see painting as a way to express my vision of the world through my sensitivity. A way to explore the depths of my mind and my innermost thoughts. It's kind of a way of showing off naked, no frills. This allows for a sincere exchange between artist and audience and opens the way to what connects us all. Basically, aren't we all made of the same material?
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. Childhood for me represents carelessness, gentleness, freedom, the joy of living ... The best memories for me are all those times when we were on a family trip and feeling alive and free. We often went to this Greek island of Sporades, Skyros, the same house on the beach, in total harmony with nature.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I always dreamed of being a painter and I pursued my dream to the end.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I don't know if you can call it art, but it was a pencil drawing of Indians dancing around a fire. I must have been barely 4 years old but I remember everyone going into ecstasies over the drawing saying that a drawing with so much detail and movement is not possible for a little one my age.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. It was coming out of high school; I knew exactly what I wanted to do so I took the competition to enter an art school. It was during my studies that I told myself that I could never do anything else. Art is my whole life.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. I work by series, so I immerse myself completely in a universe and aim to express my feelings in connection with the series while leaving my free spirit guided by my unconscious.
Q. What medium do you work with?
A. I mainly work in oil painting on canvas but I like to create relief using other materials like sand and wood chips. I use acrylic as well as inks or pastels to make preparatory drawings, but also charcoal and pencil on paper.
I also vary by sculpting with clay or plaster, which allows me to have a different artistic approach.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. I'm basically very shy; I won't go so far as to say that this caused me problems but let's say that I have certainly lost opportunities in the past.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. I don't see it as a sacrifice because for me art is a way of life. I would tell, my personal life, even though I couldn't imagine it any other way.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. Influences change with age and maturity. However, the influence of great classical masters endures and I think will always be present in me. These are El Greco, Caravaggio and Rembrandt.
The gaze necessarily evolves according to the times in which we live and the way we perceive the world. I try to see life as it is, with its beauty but also with its fragilities, its contradictions, its paradoxes ... This very cerebral way of seeing the world has led me to contemporary artists such as Munch and Bacon, or Miquel Barceló and Anselm Kiefer.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. Indeed, artistic life is very lonely but with moments of openness and even of unveiling, we find ourselves naked in front of the public. Which is also very enriching because it is during these strong moments when we expose ourselves that we meet people and we also get to know each other through the eyes of others.
Q. Apart from your art, what do you love doing?
A. I like being with my family and having real moments of bonding with my children.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. Art is expression, if it loses its main aspect, it is no longer art.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Success to me means nothing, I do art as a vital need, I am not looking for success or social recognition.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. Never lose sight of your childhood dreams...
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. Nikos Kaskouras (my art teacher) during my studies said to me: "Be real and never try to please" this phrase has always followed me throughout my career.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. To hold on to your dream despite the difficulties you may encounter...