Kostas Paniaras

Biography & Timeline


Kostas Paniaras was born in 1934 in Kiato, Corinth. Before finishing his studies at the Athens School of Fine Arts he left for Paris in 1956 and remained there for the next twenty years, during the Abstract Expressionism’s peak period.

He had his first solo exhibition in New York at the Alexander Iolas Gallery in October 1961. It marked the beginning of a 25-year collaboration with Iolas’ New York and European galleries. Paniaras participated in the 1961 Paris Biennale and the 1964 Tokyo Biennale as well as the Art in America Shows of 1962 and 1966 along with numerous other international group exhibitions.

During the 1960s and 1970s he experimented with a wide range of medias and techniques following the international artistic movements of the era and he remained active in the art scene on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time he showed his work in select galleries in both Athens and Thessaloniki. When he came back to Greece in the early 1980s he also “returns” to seascape-like painting through a fluid “calligraphy” very much his own that continued evolving in his practice. He died in Athens in 2014.


1930s - 1940s

1934: The son of Yannis Paniaras and Mina Georgoulis, Kostas Paniaras is born in Kiato, Corinth on May 28th .

1940: At the age of six Kostas starts elementary school then war breaks out between Greece and Italy on October 28.

They survive the deprivations of the German Occupation thanks to the food they grow on the family’s country estate.

During the Dekemvriana hostilities [the Battle of Athens – Dec. 3, 1944-Jan. 11, 1945 – in which many civilians were killed or injured] in Athens the Paniaras family find themselves stranded in a hotel in the capital. Kostas comes across painter’s materials in a room occupied by an art student also trapped in the hotel. He draws crude sketches of the six-fingered hands of a young valet.

1946: His first year of high school. Art instruction is ensured by the prominent painter Errikos Lekos who is also a tenant in the house of one of Kostas’ relatives, so the 12-year-old student spends his afternoons watching the artist practice his craft. 

1948: Upon his teacher’s urging and guidance Kostas begins painting from life, landscapes and still lifes. Up until he graduates from high school, he will spend most of his free time painting the countryside where he lives in primarily vivid colours.

To honor the family tradition – his grandfather was a doctor, his father a chemist and all his relatives were university graduates – he enters the Faculty of Law at Athens University.


1953: His occasional visits to art exhibitions in Athens leave him indifferent until the day he encounters the work of Yiannis Mytarakis in an exhibition in the hall of the Kentrikon Hotel. Suddenly his early passion for painting is reignited and he begins taking lessons from Eleni Zongolopoulou every week.

1954: Seeing the exhibition of Yiannis Gaïtis in February at the Kentrikon Hotel compels him to abandon his studies in law.

1955: He passes the entrance exams to the Athens School of Fine Arts and attends the preparatory class of Yiannis Moralis.

1956: First year as an art student in the studio of Yannis Moralis.

On March 26th his first solo exhibition takes place at the Monica Payne Gallery in Athens. Despite a heavy downpour, the gallery is packed opening night and the eminent critics of the era who show up for the event are unanimously enthusiastic about his work.

Following this he takes a trip to Italy where he travels for three months from Venice to Naples with stops along the way to cities renowned for their art. He visits major museums and numerous exhibitions of modern art. The journey proves to be a formative experience.

In October of that same fateful year of 1956, Kostas Paniaras moves to Paris.

He makes his way to 18 rue d’Odessa in the Montparnasse neighborhood and thanks to a letter of introduction from the well-known Greek painter Nikos Hadjikiriakos-Ghikas he enters André Lhôte’s Academy.

At the same time he attends lithography classes at the School of Fine Arts and simultaneously studies mosaics and fresco under Gino Severini. Most evenings he can be found at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in the nude drawing class.

1957: He participates in his first thematic exhibition “Salon du Nu at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune at 27 avenue Matignon from January 27 to February 7.

He frequents the cafes of Saint-Germain-des-Prés where he meets with painter friends like Thanos Tsingos, Yiannis Gaïtsis and Jason Molfessis.

1958: He takes part in the group exhibition “Artistes Grecs de Paris” [Greek Artists in Paris] held at the Maison Internationale-Galerie Nord in January then he moves into the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris where he meets Gerassimos Sklavos, Kostas Gavras, Alkis Valais among other young Greek artist residents.

He designs his first stage sets and costumes for a theatrical production of André Gide’s Theseus.

He takes up residence in the Latin Quarter at 6 rue Christine which will be his home for the next sixteen years.

He strikes up a friendship with Louise de Vilmorin, the famous poetess and writer, who introduces him to collectors and other art-world luminaries.

He paints his first radical non-objective works.


1960: In Paris for the mounting of an important exhibition of Magritte at the Galerie Rive Droite, Alexander Iolas, friend of Louise de Vilmorin, visits Paniaras’ studio. Impressed by the painter’s work he purchases some of his recent pieces and offers him an exhibition at his New York gallery.

1961: Paniaras presents his new non-objective works at the Institut Français de Grèce [The French Institute of Greece] in Athens, January 15 to 31.

In July and August the Galerie d’Antiques of Deauville hosts a solo exhibition for Paniaras in collaboration with Alexander Iolas.

On September 29 he participates in the Seconde Biennale de Paris at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Under the presidency of G. Kournoutos the Greek Committee rejects the very same paintings that Raymond Cogniat the general delegate of the French Committee will accept and exhibit. The exhibitors include Bernard Buffet, Pierre Alechinsky and Arman among others.

On October 5 Paniaras’ solo exhibition opens at the Alexander Iolas Gallery in New York. The night it premieres he sells most of his paintings. The Museum of Modern Art in New York acquires two of the works on exhibit after rave reviews appeared in the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times

1962: The famous American collector Virginia Chambers buys paintings from Paniaras and introduces him to Hanna Bekker vom Rath, a German patroness of contemporary art who exhibits his paintings in a solo exhibition in her historical Frankfurter Kunstkabinett.

In October he participates in the exhibition “L’Oeil de Boeuf” [Bull’s-eye] at the Galerie Ardail-Castro in Paris then in November at The Art in America Show in New York at the Whitney Museum.

1963: Solo exhibition at the Nees Morfes Gallery featuring a new series of paintings entitled “Myriads” from May 15 to June 3. Enthusiastic reviews in the press spur on the show’s impressive commercial success. 

He takes part in the exhibition “New Greek Artists at the Athens School of Fine Arts” from July 25 to August 8.

1964: Solo exhibition “Phenomena and Private Events” at the Galerie Alexander Iolas Gallery in Geneva.

He participates in the Tokyo Biennale.

1965: Group shows at the Alexander Iolas Gallery in New York and the Galerie Alexandre Iolas in Geneva.

Kostas becomes a friend of famed surrealist Victor Brauner and often drops by his studio.

He also spends many weekends in Brussels as a guest in the home of René and Georgette Magritte at 97 rue des Mimosas. Due to poor health, the great painter is forced to stop painting but he develops an almost paternal bond with Paniaras.

1966: Solo exhibitions at the Athens Art Gallery and the Frankfurter Kunstkabinett.

He takes part in the Art in America Show in New York at the Whitney Museum.

1967: He travels to Iran for the first time upon the request of Valais who was at the time professor at the Teheran School of Architecture and a successful interior decorator with a considerable clientele. Farah Diba, an old friend from his days at the Cité Internationale Universitaire in Paris, then a student at the École Spéciale d’Architecture, is now the Empress of Iran.

Paniaras’ suite “Phenomena” is presented in a grand exhibition at the Borghese Gallery in Tehran, Iran and its success is beyond anything the local art scene has ever seen.

1968: He puts his collaboration with Iolas on hold and limits his other professional commitments to realize extended stays in India, Nepal as well as other Far Eastern countries so he can come into direct contact with these civilizations along with the glorious and radiant colours of their art.

Tile composition 1988 - Kostas Paniaras

1970s - 1980s

1976: In February he finally returns to Greece transporting with him the best specimens of 25 years’ worth of painting that he kept stored in his Paris studio. 

On March 18 of that year, a catastrophic fire burns down the family home and his studio in Kiato. Hundreds of paintings and archives spanning over two decades are incinerated within the space of one night.

1977: He undertakes a new series “Day and Night” with their dominant reds and blues that are destined to become, together with gold and silver, the principal colors in his work from this time on.

1979: His first forays into what would become his signature overpainted antique replicas are successively embodied in the series “Day and Night.”

1981: In a new collaborative project with Alexander Iolas who has by this time settled in Athens he presents his recent paintings and overpainted sculptures at the Athens Art Gallery.

The prominent collector Dakis Ioannou acquires Corinthian Column, the centerpiece of the exhibition and installs it in the Intercontinental Hotel.

1982: Iolas exhibits works from Paniaras’ series “Day and Night” at the Galerie Samy Kinge in Paris from April 27 to May 22. The show is sold-out before the opening thanks to the international collector James Kennedy.

At the Nicosia “Famagusta Gate” Festival he exhibits his first works with plasticized materials and he makes the acquaintance of the prominent Cypriot collector Dimitris Pierides. The two become fast friends.

1983: He meets Meta Filippou at the home of Iolas in Aghia Pareskevi, Athens.

On March 22 they are in New York together where his ready-made vinyl sheet works and sculptures from the series “Day and Night” are on view at the newly opened Iolas-Jackson Gallery.

He presents works from the same series at the Psychiko Art Gallery from June 1 to June 30.

The summer of the same year Meta and Kostas get married.

In the Fall after participating in the exhibition “Contemporary Tendencies of Modern Greek Art” at the National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum in Athens, he travels to Russia with his wife where they visit the great museums.

1984: He participates in the Art Fair ’84 with works on display at the stand of Psychiko Art Gallery at the Intercontinental Hotel from June 1 to June 17.

In August new works are on show at the Miranda Art Gallery on the island of Hydra.

In October Iolas’ donation which includes works by Paniaras goes on exhibit at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki.

The Pierides Art Gallery in collaboration with Iolas mounts a major retrospective exhibition of Paniaras’ work from October 15 to December 16.

1985: He participates in the group show “After Abstraction” at the Nees Morfes Gallery in Athens.

On September 24 he creates his first Sebastian [mixed media sculptural piece], the focal point of his exhibition “Pictorial Space – Theatricality” for Athens Cultural Capital of Europe, Benaki Museum – Vera Kouloura Villa, Palaio Faliro.

1986:  On July 20th for the inauguration of the new Basil and Elise Foundation Museum of Modern Art on the island of Andros Kostas Paniaras presents 30 recent works in collaboration with Alexander Iolas.

Likewise, he participates in the following group shows: “The Sixties Generation” at the Pierides Art Gallery, “The Physiognomy of Postwar Art in Greece” at the Municipal Art Gallery of Athens from March to May; “Works of Modern Greek Art from Contemporary Currents” at the Art Thessaloniki International Contemporary Fair, Stand 7 from August 23 – April 27.

1987: He is invited to participate in the Panhellenic Art Exhibition at the Piraeus Port Authority Seafront Exhibition Center as a guest exhibitor with three large-scale works: the colonnade “The Hours”; the coil-cochlea “The Reciprocity of the Day” and the mural composition “All Day Long.”

He also participates in the exhibition “Contemporary Greek Painting” at the National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum in Athens and exhibits in “The Vanguard in Greek Art” with the Pierides Art Gallery at the Second International Festival of Patras.

He has a solo exhibition at the Morfi Gallery in Limassol, Cyprus from October 20 to November 2.

1988: In May he designs an impressive installation Environment in Syntagma Square in conjunction with his Dromena 88 installation at the Temple of Olympian Zeus sponsored by the Municipality of Athens.

He is invited to participate in the Third International Festival of Patras from July 9 to August 8 and by commission from the Municipality of Patras he creates “Enlightenment” a large-scale construction 8 meters tall and 17 meters long in the old Anglican Church of the city. This monumental work arouses a strong reaction from the small local Protestant community.

August 19-20 he designs a large-scale installation for the set of a theatrical production of Molière’s Bourgeois Gentilhomme at the open-air Lycabettus Theatre performed by Giorgos Messalas’ Modern Theater in the framework of the Athens Festival.

Solo exhibition of his recent works opens at the Athens Art Gallery.

Group exhibition “Greek Painting 1968-1988” organized by the National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum in Athens.

He designs the sets for productions of the plays The Dance of Death by Strindberg and Hedda Gabler by Ibsen.

1989: He creates an allusive stage set with an inventive manipulation of mirrors for the Experimental Theater’s production of Ibsen’s Ghosts.

He presents drawings and older works from Paris in an exhibition at the Agathi Gallery from December 12 to January 17, 1990.


1990: He participates in a thematic exhibition “A Glance at Contemporary Greek Art” curated by Dora Iliopoulou-Rogan and Donald Knolb at the Trammell Crow Center, Dallas, Texas from March 30 to April 28. On April 14 the journalist E. Bistika who is reporting on the exhibition writes the following in the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini: “Paniaras’ great composition “Beyond the Landscape” was bought on opening night by a Texan collector who said “Yes, this is Greece as I remember it.””

Solo exhibition featuring recent paintings at the Museum of Cycladic Art from May 16 to June 30.

1991: He participates in two consecutive thematic exhibitions at the Kreonidis Gallery: “Variations on White and Black” and “Idols Mirroring Reflections” curated by Dora Iliopoulou-Rogan.

He designs a white, red and black pictorial environment for the stage set of the Experimental Theatre’s production of Lorca’s Blood Wedding.

1992: He takes part in the thematic group exhibition “The Sea in Greek Painting” curated by Chrysanthos Christou at the Nees Morfes Gallery.

He presents his vinyl-wrapped canvases [ready-made vinyl sheet works] from the series “Day and Night” dating from the 1980s at the Gallery 3 from May 26 to June 12.

Solo exhibition is consecrated to Paniaras at the Heraklion Municipal Art Gallery in October.

He exhibits “Labyrinth” an overpainted polyvinyl chloride [PVC] sculpture that unfolds to a length of 40 meters at the Agathi Gallery from November 9 to 28.

1993: He takes part in the exhibition “Dialogues” at the Palais d’Iéna in Paris in January. He exhibits at Art Athina ‘93 at the stand of Gallery 3 from May 24 – 30.

On July 23 in honor of the centenary of the Corinth Canal he creates a vast “Environment” and the great Colonnade “Peloponnesian Guard” between the two bridges.

He has a solo exhibition at the Lola Nicolaou Art Gallery in Thessaloniki where he presents recent works from December 1 to 31.

1994: Solo exhibition at the Nees Morfes Gallery in Athens from May 17-June 10.

Within the framework of the Corinthian Gulf Festival Paniaras has an important solo exhibition Seascapes at the new Municipal Hall of Corinth from November 5-30.

1995 Solo exhibition at Argo Gallery in Nicosia, Cyprus from March 7 to 21 followed by another at the Psychiko Cultural Center [Neo Psychiko Municipal Cultural Center] in Athens from May 4 to 31.

Group exhibition “Creative Meetings ’95” at the E. Averoff Museum, Metsovo.

1996: He takes part in the group exhibition “Homage to Pericles Pantazis” at the E. Averoff Museum, Metsovo.

Group exhibition “Creative Meetings ’96” at the Selini Art Gallery in Kifissia.

Solo exhibition at the Amymóni [Αμυμώνη] Contemporary Art Space in Ioannina in December.

1997: Solo exhibition at Nees Morfes Gallery in Athens from March 18 to April 6 and at the Lola Nicolaou Art Gallery in Thessaloniki from April 14 to May 20.

1999: Exhibition “Emerging Aphrodites” at the Nees Morfes Gallery in Athens from April 27 to May 23.

Solo exhibition at Polygnotos Art Gallery in Heraklion, Crete from June 4 to 26.

“Creative Meetings ’99” at Selini Art Gallery in Kifissia in September.

Group exhibition “Forty” in celebration of Nees Morfes Gallery’s 40th birthday and curated by Eleni Kipreos from November 15-30.


2000: Solo exhibition at D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc. in London from October 31 to November 10.

2003: Solo exhibition at the Nees Morfes Gallery in Athens from May 8 to 31.

Thematic group exhibition “I, Myself” at the Contemporary Art Museum of Crete in Rethymnon, Crete, curated by Eleni Kypraiou.

Solo exhibition “Ermoupolia 2003” at the Cyclades Gallery old customshouse of Hermoupolis, Syros from July 5-31.

He participates in Art Athina 2003 with works at the stand of Nees Morphes Gallery.

2004: Group showViews of Athens by Contemporary Painters” at the Athens City Museum (Vouros-Eftaxias Foundation).

Group exhibition City of Games – Passages through Contemporary Greek Painting at Technopolis Municipality of Athens, Gazi, curated by Athina Schina, from August 2-September 15.

Group exhibition “Near Likeness: Versions of a Portrait of Antonis Benakis” held at the Benaki Museum Pireos 138 curated by Thanassis Moutsopoulos from December 2004 to January 2005.

2006: Group exhibition The Alpha Bank Collection: Greek Art from 1920 until today at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki from November 9 to January 17, 2007, curated by Irini Orati and D. Zaharopoulos.

2007:  A retrospective “Paniaras. Fifty Years of Painting,” a journey from the oldest to the most recent works, is organized at the Benaki Museum from February to March.

Group exhibition “Visual Arts in Greece 2007” at the State Museum of Contemporary Art (Moni Lazariston) in Thessaloniki, curated by Yiannis Bolis.

Solo exhibition “Paniaras: Landscapes and Utopias” at the Municipal Art Gallery of Larissa – G. I. Katsigras Museum from November to February 2008.

2008: Group exhibition “From Ancient Olympia to Beijing” within the framework of the Cultural Year of Greece in Beijing, China from August 3 to September 20.

Solo exhibition “Reintroducing Color” at Ikastikos Kiklos in Athens from October 20 to November 15.

Group exhibition “Art and Nature” at the State Museum of Contemporary Art (Moni Lazariston) in Thessaloniki and at the Villa Kazouli in Kifissia from November to December.

2009: Group exhibition “Ambassadors of Contemporary Greek Art” at the Hellenic Museum in Melbourne, Australia from January 20 to February 20.

Group exhibition “Greek Landscape Painting from the 18th to the 21st century” at the B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music in Athens from March 3 to May 31.

In August he is part of the group exhibition “Twenty-one paintings in Cephalonia.”

Group exhibition “New Forms After Fifty Years” at the Benaki Museum from September 23 to November 29.

2010s - Today

2010: Solo exhibition “The Seasons, a Pretext” at Ikastikos Kiklos featuring his new polyptychs from October to November.

He participates in Art Athina 2010 with works at the stand of Ikastikos Kiklos from May 13 to 16.

2011: Three monumental works created by Paniaras are installed at the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre: “Trilogy: The Dialogue – Day and Night 2011 – A Summer Daydream.”

Group exhibition “The World of Odysseus Elytis: Poetry and Paintings” at the B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music from September 22 to November 27.

2012: Group exhibition “Ultramarine” at the DESTE Foundation with a floor installation of 150 corrugated metal sheets that are spread over 180 square meters from December 15 to February 29.

2013: He begins work on the project “Fragile” dealing with health.

Group exhibition “Painting I: European Visual Affinities 1960-1980” at the Frissiras Museum in Athens.

Group exhibition “Vogiatzoglou Collection: Act I” at the Vogiatzoglou Art Space in Nea Ionia.

Group exhibition “The System of Objects – The Dakis Ioannou Collection Reloaded” by Andreas Angelidakis at the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art in Nea Ionia.

2014: Kostas Paniaras dies in Athens at the age of 80.

2015: Solo exhibition Paniaras. Fragile is dedicated to him at the Benaki Museum, Central Building, Athens.

2016: Group exhibition “The World of Odysseus Elytis: Poetry and Paintings” at the Teloglion Foundation of Art – Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

2016: Group exhibition “Anthropocentric Approaches” at the Gallery ArtPrisma in Piraeus.

Group exhibition “The Alpha Bank Collection: Greek Art from 1950 until Today at the Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art – New Wing of Nestoridion Melathron in Rhodes.

2016: Group exhibition “The Departed” at the Frissiras Museum in Athens.

2017: Group exhibition “Offer – II” at the Municipal Art Gallery of Agrinio, Agrinio.

Group exhibition “Choices of a Bold Collector: Stavros Tsigoglou Collection” at the Teloglion Foundation of Art – Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Group exhibition “Yesterday and Today – Eternal Conversation in Art” at the Municipal Art Gallery of Agrinio, Agrinio.

2018: Group exhibition “Acquisitions” at the Municipal Art Gallery of Larissa – G. I. Katsigras Museum, Larissa.

Exhibition “Alexander Iolas – The Legacy” at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki.

Exhibition “Three Collectors – Three Eras: G. Vogiatzoglou – S. Felios – Ch. Christofis” Vogiatzoglou Art Space in Athens.

Solo exhibition “The Ambivalence of Memory” organized by the Citronne Gallery at the Archaeological Museum of Poros.

Solo exhibition “Landscapes of Memory” at the Citronne Gallery on the island of Poros.

2019: Exhibition “Group Portrait: The Artists of Our Heart” at the Sianti Gallery in Athens.

Exhibition “A Beach in the City” at the Sianti Gallery in Athens.

Exhibition “The Landscape of Santorini in Greek Painting of the 20th Century, Archive of Santorinian Studies – Dimitris Tsitouras Collection” at the Benaki Museum – Pireos 138 in Athens.

Exhibition “Relative Diversity III” at the Art Space δ in Volos.

Exhibition “Interamerican Art Collection” at the Image Gallery (Lykiardopoulos Building) in Athens.

2022: Exhibition “L. Kanakakis. Precious, Everyday and Heterogenous. New Acquisitions” at the Contemporary Art Museum of Crete in Rethymnon, Crete.

2023: Group exhibition with Varotsos, Paniaras, Sorogas entitled “Secret Language” at the Sianti Gallery in Athens.