Having lived around the world, Christos Koutsouras came to the North Coast and Astoria area somewhat by chance. He was traveling from Seattle to Cannon Beach in 2010, looking for a place to create work for a show at the Indiana Museum of Contemporary Art. “It’s a real place,” he said of Astoria in an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting. “And whatever is real, I love it. At the same time, it makes space for the muse to come; it makes space for reverie.” And though he still travels often to Europe, Koutsouras now calls Astoria home.
Koutsouras has found a home and advocate at the Imogen Gallery in Astoria as well. Imogen Gallery owner and gallerist Teri Sund hosted Koursouras’ first solo exhibit in Oregon, “Passages,” in 2013. “Accessible to All,” the painter’s second major solo exhibition at the Imogen Gallery was held in summer 2015 and included so many works that Sund created a satellite “pop up” gallery in a retail space in downtown Astoria. The “Accessible to All” exhibition in the Runyan Gallery at the VAC is a collaboration with the Imogen Gallery and will include works for sale as well as works from area collectors. “Christos is very excited to be coming to Newport,” Sund says.
Before arriving in Astoria, Christos Koutsouras (Greek in origin) was already a well-regarded and well-traveled painter and adventurer. He has had multiple solo exhibitions, at the Indiana Museum of Contemporary Art, the Gallery Sassen and Edition in Bonn, Germany, the Abraham Lubelskey Gallery in New York City, the Gallery Alekton in Athens, GA, and the Center for Artist Melina in Athens, Greece, among others. In spring 2016, Koutsouras returned from a trip to Germany, where he is working on a commissioned mural project.
Christos Koutsouras was born in 1957 on the Greek island of Samos. He was trained and served as a merchant marine until the age of 25, when he traveled to Germany to study painting and drawing. He attended the Alanus Hochschule in Bonn, the H.dk Berlin in Berlin and the Fachhochschule in Cologne. From 1982 to 1085, he was commissioned to create murals and reliefs in Greece and France. From 19989-2001, he taught as an adjuct professor of drawing and painting at the University of Indiana, Indianapolis, before moving with his former wife and son to Seattle.
“This place of confluence of took hold, like an anchor dropped from a freighter,” writes Teri Sund at the Imogen Gallery in Astoria. “And here he remains, still finding inspiration in the currents that move the land, sea and sky. This series, ‘Accessible to All,’ are his visual notes of landscape that has profoundly marked his work. He brings the seasons and the storms from day to night.”
Before arriving in Astoria, Christos Koutsouras painted figurative works—nudes, dancers, and city scenes—but now he paints landscapes almost exclusively. In the forward to Koutsouras’ 2013 show at the Imogen Gallery, noted Astoria artist Royal Nebeker wrote, “Maintaining a fairly narrow range of subjects, in a word Koutsouras paints nature. He asserts that this includes the human figure. While interested in the figure and the landscape, especially water, he never places the figure in that environment.”
Christos Kourtsouras’ acrylic-on-canvass paintings are large, mainly abstract works made up of strong brush strokes and color fields, mainly in blues and greys. “Standing up on the platform on the south jetty and having winds 5-miles or 60-miles an hour blowing in your face and with water,” he told Oregon Public Broadcasting, “Those are the moments where you feel as a human very small. It puts you on your right dimensions in your existence in nature.”
The Runyan Gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm.
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