ambling through this site, I hope that
you will have the opportunity to get to
know and communicate with, even if through photographic reproduction, a significant portion
of my work.
However, behind this there is a little story. This is my own personal story, which I had the
idea of putting at the end of my works, to sum up.
Those who know better attempted to dissuade me: it is not customary, they said, for the
artist to say a few words "at the end". But I would like you to know that what interests me
first and foremost is a meeting with you through my works - all the rest comes after that.
What I want is your impartial opinion and then, if you wish, you can read these few
words which sketch, on general lines, my progress through life up to now.
I was born in an Athens neighborhood, the Thiseion, in difficult and troubled times.
At the age of eleven, I played the war game, like many other children at that time, jumping out of the window of my room at dawn and following the orders of those in charge in EPON (The Political Youth Organization).
And when in '44 liberation was now imminent, at five o'clock in the morning, the dawn of Wednesday, my refusal to obey the German orders to stop cost me both hands and an eye and the exploding grenade itself turned my body into a map of shrapnel.
This could easily have been the end of my life. But I survived, and this in itself was enough for me to dream.
I discovered painfully and slowly that "being different" gives rise to prejudice, distrust, curiosity and pity.
Childhood friends turn their back on you, schools do not accept you, later they dismiss you from the Athens National Gallery
as incapable of work after 12 years' service!
But because I believe in the wise, if trite, saying that every obstacle is also an opportunity and because I agree with Raphael's idea (and forgive me if I do not quote him accurately) that a real artist can paint even without hands, I finished the School of Fine Arts and - however ironic this may sound about me - with teachers who made me thank my lucky stars for them, such as Arghyros, Georgiadis, Papaloukas, Moralis and Parthenis.
Many people believe that I am seeking an encounter with fate and that my art has purely existential and experiential starting-points, but I start out from a very simple question: what else am I to do? What am I to set against the misfortune of the moment, against the accident itself, against the disfigurement and the pain but beauty itself, creativity, zest and joy? And how am I to achieve all this without will power, tenacity and persistence, without faith?
I find I am able to communicate these thoughts very simply and very easily and more directly to children, in a two-way relationship of moral and psychological invigoration, because I think it is children who need support in their first hesitant steps in the world. Thus my greatest concern is to send to them messages of love and a passion for life, of hard and unceasing effort, will and optimism (and, fortunately, I have many such opportunities through my visits to schools for the exhibitions which are held there - opportunities to demonstrate in a practical manner that there is no such thing as 'I can't', only 'I won't').
And they reward me with the few thoughts which they leave behind for me: "Mr Christou draws with horizontal or vertical lines.
The work which I liked most was The Neighborhood Greengrocer; I'd like to thank him for talking to us as if we were grownups." or "What he said to us about his life and art are deeply etched on my mind and my soul. I wish I had one of his pictures in my room!"
I would like to thank these children very much, and those soul my art will touch.
I would like to thank very much all of you who will attempt to get to know me through my works.
Finally, I would like to thank life itself for giving me the strength to feel, and to express myself, and so vindicate its immense value.
Above all, I thank God for letting me live and be able to speak to through my art