In an old mansion, in a castle house with its wine-press, warehouses, built oven and other auxiliary rooms, in Archanes of Crete, Xotaris was created. An art place. Here the biggest collection of Ex Libris and engravings in Greece has found a home.

The collector, Christos Giannakos, who dreamed and created this place, has travelled around the world like a modern xotaris, in open markets, galleries, artist studios, discovering the beauties and secrets of this exceptional art.

Only a xotaris could do this. Xotaris in the cretan dialect means wanderer, traveler. A person that comes from another world, full of experiences and material from the places he has visited.

The permanent collection is housed at the two floor gallery next to the ruins of the old wine press, where grapes became wine, while exhibitions and workshops can also be hosted here. Meanwhile, this age-old process of wine fermentation remains manifest in this poetic and enchanting place proving that magic still exists.

The permanent collection contains engravings of modern artists, mainly from former east Europe, China, Japan, Russia, Argentina, India and other countries.

Engravings are divided in two main categories: Ex Libris and free graphics. The collection contains more than three hundred unique Ex Libris dedicated to the collector, as well as hundreds of others with various subjects.

Unique works of art are also the over painted printed engraved Ex Libris, as well as many APs (Artist Proof), that is the first printings of an artist. All those engravings dating back to the beginnings of the previous century or even older ones are the exquisite pieces in the collection: engravings created by Albing Brunovsky, Oldrich Kulhanek, many drafts and designs, paintings and aquarelles. The collection contains works made by the collector himself in cooperation with foreign artists such as engraving albums and portfolios.

Xotaris aims to do much more. An ambitious program of events is under construction, inaugurating cooperation with well known institutions, cultural agents as well as Greek and foreign artists, planning and realizing reliable educative programs, seminars, workshops.

If you want to visit this place you need to take a trip to Archanes in Crete: in this small, closed valley, where humans made their appearance in the Late Neolithic Era, in one of the most important areas of Crete for the Minoic and Byzantine era, with the traditional architecture and the limitless vineyards.

Xotaris Gallery offers a special appointments service, in order for collectors and specialists to study the collection, for schools and faculties to visit it, for new artists to find there an inspiration source.


The phrase means literally "From the books" and it is followed by the name of the owner of the book. This small ornamental piece of paper found on the inside front cover or at the back side of the page bearing the title of the book was a kind of seal.
A good Ex Libris indicated clearly the owner through his name or the family coat of arms.
Many Ex Libris were followed by an inscription reflecting the conceptions of the book owner.


Incising designs and symbols on a hard surface, which shall serve as a plate for the reproduction of copies on paper is what we call engraving.
Engravings are all original designs that have been printed from one or more plates, using any technique except from mechanical or photomechanical methods, given that designing, incising and printing are made by the same artist.


Homer attributes virtues and passions such as beauty, power, bravery, cunning, pain or fearlessness to both groups of fighters, Greek and Trojans. It counts for little whether they are Greeks or Trojans, defenders or attackers.
Just like the traveler who stands opposite the imaginary or not problems and difficulties that time and Gods send him. Just like contrasts in mountain Olympus where every God has his own favored.
Every outcome stands for an allegory: Odysseus washed up in Ithaca; you reach the end pure, but alone, unescorted.
Hector lies on the bloody sand rousing the sorrow and the respect of his enemies.
The poet of oral tradition narrates and recounts.
He sets questions hidden in images of beauty and violence; in battles and compromises; in human hugs and abductions; in visions and fierce battles.

This magic word

that has lived all along and shall live for ever and ever, inspired thousands of artists all over centuries.
In this exhibition a group of engravers, like the traveling troupes of other times, manages to express in a unique way plenty of images taken in Homer's magic words. A small troupe gathered in the valley of Archanes in Crete from all over the world in order to lay before Xotaris, on his demand, a small treasure of images.
Julian Jordanov, Hristo Naidenov, Eduard Penkov, Peter Lazarov, Peter Velikov, Hristo Kerin, Robert Baramov, Vladislav Kvartalny, Eugenia Timoshenko, Jurij Jakovenko, Roman Sustov, Chen Hao, Chen Xiaofeng, Jan Cernos, Oldrich Kulhanek, Peter Minka, Hanna Glowacka, Ruslan Agirba, Paolo Rovegno, Sergey Ivanov, Sergey Hrapov, Vasyl Fenchak, Marius Liugaila, Alexandra von Hellberg, Hedwig Pauwels, Ella Tsyplyakova, Ichibun Sugimoto, Panos Paloglou, Miltos Petalas, Florence Christakis, Leonidas Giannakopoulos, Michael Falkonis.
Many other shall follow as new engravers appear all over the world – in Greece, China, Japan, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Slovenia.

The first thematic exhibition was held in Archanes of Crete.

The tour starts in Athens, in Michael Cacoyannis Foundation.
Like an artistic Argo, in March it will stop in Belgrade, in the Academy of Fine Arts, and after that in the municipality of Bodio Lomnago, a small town in Varese of Italy.
This same year, it shall travel to Minsk, Belarus and St. Petersburg, Russia.
May this exhibition have a nice trip with new artists and new works.

[For the Cultural Foundation 'Panagiotis Giannakos' - Eva and Christos Giannakos]

The paradox of Homer's Helen

Helen, the culprit.
The myth as we learnt it at school three thousand two hundred years later, the myth as heard by hundreds of thousands of warriors and citizens in ancient Greek cities sitting round their fires before it had even been put down in writing, the myth that gathered thousands of Achaeans at Aulis ready to set sail for Troy – this myth lays the blame with Helen for the ten-year war and all its suffering.

But wait. In neither the Iliad nor the Odyssey is judgment made against Helen; she is not charged or prosecuted. Helen is above the law, beyond morality. She is a fact of life, a force of nature. Because she is beautiful! Simply, conclusively, eternally: beautiful.

This supreme praise of beauty will become the legacy of the Homeric epics to all the great stories to follow.
Whether she was cause, pretext or phantom – Helen never even went to Troy if we are to believe Euripides' later explanation for her innocence – Menelaus's wife belongs to the chorus of immortal women in the epics who pleat together the rough fabric of one of the grandest war adventures of all time.
The woman goddess, wife, mistress, mother, daughter, queen, slave, prophetess, spirit: all the women in the epic poems will always lend themselves as inspiration to Art because they were born at exactly the moment that life, with its infinite motifs and variations, became a narrative, became an epic.

[Christos Helmis, creative director, Colibri]

The radiance of the epic poems

Life is beautiful because it does not submit to simplifications and dogma. No pairing of good and evil, heaven and hell, renown and deceit, the living and the inorganic, the mortal and the immortal will ever succeed in telling its story.
The great poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey senses this, and teaches it. His Achaeans are only faced with their Trojans by chance – it is not the Greeks against the Barbarians. The idiocy of war strikes them both.
And both can be reduced or raised to the level of the other.

History bears him out. As much today as then, the opposition between the two sides of the Aegean is fictitious.
The Lydian monarchs are Hellenized and the Ionian Greeks become Lydians.
Somewhere between despotism and democracy, every historical time and place has its own rating.
Men, cities, empires are destroyed within the very frenzy which might have been the basis of their survival.
Life moves in mysterious ways. Within this state of flux, Art develops and this continuous – ars longa – flow is perhaps man's only stability.

Homer knows this. And he plays things just as life and its lyre-strings do. The bow and the lyre for the slaughter and song of his heroic fame. The allure of the Sirens' song and the danger that it will imitate the epic.
Epic within epic in the scenes of the storytelling before kings and grape pickers. The offering of food as honour to the narrator-hero and as alms to the grape pressing-beggar.
Boasts and punishments, primitive reprisals and "divine" justice.
He has it all – in motion, in dialogue, in progress.
Homer uses his art as a plough to till the soil of the art in each of us.

[Christos Helmis, creative director, Colibri]

The awe of the hero and his return

Awe! Those fighting in Homeric armies certainly have a kind of training and experience of war, but how does anyone dare to stand before a Hector, an Achilles, an Ajax?
How do the knees of the recruits not buckle in the deafening clash of battle?
What god steps in and inoculates the exhausted soldier with power, strength, fortitude, valour and bravery when he has not lain down on a soft mattress for over a decade?
How far from madness are the daily ravages of human lives and the pallbearer of companions? What is the person who mounted a steed to steal the "uncloven-hoofed" horses of the Trojans, five hundred years before the first horse riders and the demystification of the fearsome centaurs, made of?
And how can this demigod, this - albeit fleeting - protagonist in the great historical event simply return just like that to domestic and provincial concerns?
How can he come back to earth without risking destruction, without dangling mid-air or drifting off course, without taking on the metaphysical?

The Iliad narrates man's sensational journey towards the immortality of the hero, and the Odyssey the painful return of the hero to human mortality.
The untrodden course leads to the question that will gestate for several centuries in the womb of the two epic poems until it is given birth to as philosophy and raised as never before comprehended science.
And meanwhile, and in perpetuity this noble Homeric womb will continue to contract myths with memories of events and people's life stories so as to incubate the fruits of their artistic creativity.

[Christos Helmis, creative director, Colibri]

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  • Julian Jordanov
  • Hristo Naidenov
  • Eduard Penkov
  • Peter Lazarov
  • Peter Velikov
  • Hristo Kerin
  • Robert Baramov
  • Vladislav Kvartalny
  • Eugenia Timoshenko
  • Jurij Jakovenko
  • Chen Hao
  • Chen Xiaofeng
  • Jan Cernos
  • Oldrich Kulhanek
  • Peter Minka
  • Hanna Glowacka
  • Ruslan Agirba
  • Paolo Rovegno
  • Sergey Ivanov
  • Sergey Hrapov
  • Vasyl Fenchak
  • Marius Liugaila
  • Alexandra von Hellberg
  • Hedwig Pauwels
  • Ella Tsyplyakova
  • Ichibun Sugimoto
  • Panos Paloglou
  • Miltos Petalas
  • Florence Christakis
  • Leonidas Giannakopoulos
  • Michael Falkonis