Born 1930 in Thessaloniki; died 2004 in Athens. Took lessons from Spyropoulos and Nikolaou (1944-8) and studied at the Athens Academy of Fine Arts (1950-5) under Moralis. Attended the School of Art Conservation in Rome (1955-9) with a scholarship from the Italian Institute in Athens, at the same time taking lessons in mural painting and engraving at the Scuola delle Arti Ornamentali di San Giacomo. Has held more than 30 solo exhibitions, in Greece and abroad.
The MMCA held a major retrospective of his work in 1997. Has also shown his work in numerous international group events, including Nouvelles aventures de l'objet (Paris, 1961) and Three Proposals for a New Greek Sculpture (Venice, 1964). Represented Greece at the Venice Biennale, 1988. Produced Queue for the Omonia Square underground railway station, Athens 2000. Received the Modigliani Award (1959), an honourable commendation at the Sao Paulo Biennale (1961), the Premio Lissone, and first prize at the Salon de Montrouge (1997).
In the 1950s, Kessanlis's work reflected the trends of art informel and abstract expressionism. In Paris in the '60s, he became ideologically close to the New Realists and, with French colleagues, played a leading part in the creation of mec-art. His return to Greece in 1980 as a professor in the Athens Academy of Fine Arts, his tenure as rector (1991-5), and the transfer of the Academy's ateliers to premises in Piraios Street offer tangible testimony to his social concern for visual art in Greece. The structure of the image, the significance of gesture, and the question of multiple reproduction and the viewer's involvement in the end product have been among his unfailing concerns throughout his career.