Art Hotel – Kostas Liatakis
Aris Hotel was opened in 1988 by the three Liatakis brothers, Lefteris, Eftychis and Kostas. Today it is run by the next generation but Kostas still plays a vital role for the unique, artistic character of the hotel.
Kostas was born in 1960 as the last of six siblings in a traditional Paleochoran family. From a very early age his passions were different from those of his peers and already in his early school years Kostas went under the nickname O καλλιτέχνης – The Artist. He loved music and most of all singing, and he felt most at home outdoors – especially by the sea. But even though others apparently saw the artist in Kostas from a very early age, he himself lacked awareness of it. Kostas was never into the most obvious of art forms – drawing and painting – so it took him some years of maturing to discover and develop this so very profound part of his identity.
The first tourists came to Paleochora during the 1970s, Kostas was a teenager then, and it had an immense impact on him. He describes it as life-altering seeing all the free-spirited young people with their long hair, big smiles and colourful clothing enter the little town in which he had grown up – a small, traditional, Cretan village at the very edge of Europe, fairly disconnected from the rest of the world. These new youngsters set up simple camps on the big Sandy Beach, lit bonfires and played music long into the nights. They were carefree and enjoyed life’s simple pleasures and for Kostas it was like entering a world of colours and possibilities from a place that for him now felt more like darkness and stagnation. A new world had been presented to him, and he loved it!
It was through interaction with these early hippie-era tourists that Kostas learned English – and developed his passion for music. Still today many songs from the past bring back fond memories for Kostas and take him back to some of the most beautiful times of his life.
When Kostas some years later went through personal hard times he found peace in making jewellery out of simple materials that nature offered to him; little things he found by the sea like small pieces of wood, pebbles and shells – and some wire. He realized that these little pieces of nature touched him profoundly, and a new-found inner focus developed through the process of remodelling them.
As time went on Kostas took on larger pieces of rocks and stones and started to sculpture them, always letting the unique original piece guide him towards the final result, instead of the opposite. After some time he tried working with wood, which was a lot easier to sculpt, and today wood is his primary art material.
Nature as guide and inspiration
Everything Kostas creates comes from nature, either pieces he finds himself or things that are found and offered to him by friends – he never needs to pay for any of his art material since nature so generously provides it to him for free. Over the years people have come and gone in Paleochora and some of them have noticed Kostas’ passion for creation and given him tools to aid him in his work. The passion for sculpture has given him life-long, barrier-crossing friendships with people from all over the world.
When looking at Kostas art work it is very clear that the inspiration source for his art is nature. Each time he starts a new creation he lets the original piece guide him through the process. The ideas develop as he carves, files, grinds and polishes until he feels he has reached the finish line. Some projects are completed fast while others take months to complete, but for Kostas there is no point in measuring the time, each piece takes the time it needs and satisfaction lies in the process. It has happened that Kostas has abandoned a piece to move on to something different because of a lack of communication with his material, just to return after some time and find an amazing flow to enable him to finish his creation.
Creation under the sun
Kostas has his own workshop and showroom in the centre of down-town Paleochora. However, most of his bigger projects are created behind Aris Hotel, where he is surrounded by lush daisy-blooming fields. He says this is the place where he feels most inspired, under the sun with the sounds of the birds and the sea as his primary company.
Over the past years Kostas has taken part in various art exhibitions all over Crete.
When you visit Aris Hotel you immediately come eye to eye with lots of intriguing sculptures and other art works, both indoors and outdoors. The amazing bed headboards, as one of many examples, are all unique and made by the hands of Kostas. Being able to create art is just as important to Kostas existence as breathing air; and art, though perhaps not always permanent, often seems to just appear wherever he turns up.
Want to know more?
If you would like to know more about Kostas and his art, he is happy to share. If he himself is not around the staff at Aris Hotel will help you to get in contact with him. You can also visit Kostas workshop in the evenings, even though there aren’t any standard opening hours. Unless he is off visiting the magical island of Gavdos, or his wife’s village in Peloponnesus, he is usually not very far away.