ATHENA SCHINA

 

Landscape as testimony of the soul  

 For Sophocles Christou, art is a kind of daily exercise and of a remarkable discipline in areas which have to do
with human will, zeal for life and the desire of the artist himself that his capabilities of expression should attain
to the limits where observation and its artistic conversion into a work is concerned — a work which is sensitive,
filled with power and inspiration.
Someone who did not know the specific artist could easily suppose that his pictures, in pencil but also, more usually,
in Indian ink, were the work of an artist absolutely devoted to his subject, which he reproduces within the framework
ofa photographic realism.
Even from this point of view — that is, if the beholder misinterpreted the artistic skill of Sophocles Christou -
again the reality of the work itself would prove him wrong because in this particular instance,this is not a
mechanical method of rendering the visible.
It is an inspirited re-creation of the nature and life of his landscapes, which include buildings for worship and
pilgrimage, both of the past and of the present, which convey experiences and memories which are transubstantiated as
they are suspended in time, taking light captive in their every nook and cranny. This light brings the masses out in
relief and at the same time cherishes them with a great gradation of shadows, so that the gaze is replaced by the
tangibility of the gesture and the refinement of a style which spiritualizes matter.
Sophocles Christou has transformed a trauma into a miracle, overcoming every difficulty by the strength of his
faith that the unattainable can be attained if only one grain of mustard-seed can be found. He himself cultivates this
grain of mustard-seed from day to day, and it is this grain of mustard-seed which burgeons on the rock of patience and
resilience.
This artist is one of the most important portrayers of the open air in our modern art. He traces in his art and
through nature the courses taken by light in all its fluctuations, by times and seasons.
He chooses those times at which the radiance of the landscape reaches the appropriate point for the presentation of the
metapraxis of the socalled reshaping, which does not depart from the specific, but which, nevertheless, possesses the
potential for Sophocles Christou to disengage it from its earthly weight.
Ruins of ancient Greek temples, chapels and alleyways on hills, settlements take on flesh and blood by means of
Christou's pen, without any need for him faithfully to follow the outlines, to be enslaved by them or to draw them in.
He portrays the shadows with delicate striations and by condensing or spacing them renders the intensity or relaxation
of the tones. And it is as if, in this way, he is caressing the shallow cellules or the deep warrens of the grey, which
reaches to the deepest black, as is evident in every grain of rock, in every tree trunk's bark, in every tree's foliage,
in the grains of sand, in the light undulations of the sea, even in the humble greenery of a clearing or in the slight
inclines of the masonry of buildings towards the worn corners, where the wind has softened the angles and a human
gesture has wiped out the angularity of even the most geometrically conceived buildings. The method of Sophocles Christou, as an artistic style, could also have given us a great engraver, apart from
the important artist which he already is, as he expresses himself, in the words of Pindar, through the shadows of
things, to remind us of the memorable saying that “man is the dream of a shadow”. But the artist insists and we follow
him. It is not the subject, his pellucid art tells us, or at least it is not only that.
The subject is a means for the testimony of the soul, as it is formulated as a tracing out of its reverberations.
The subject is simply the starting-point, while the centre of gravity of the specific artistic parameter falls on the
way in which it i is depicted as a conversation of whispers, stylistic particularities and harmonized antitheses,
located on the edges of the shaping of forms, where the masses of the material are generated, articulated through their
syllables, and at the same time disappear from the light like mirages.
Sophocles Christou portrays the recourses, the degradations and the eliminations of light through the impres-
sionistic reflections and darkness which their passage leaves.
His hands have become wings and his eyes, which transmit to us the inner vibrancy of his emotional vision, pierce the
surface, transforming it into lacework. In this sense, his landscapes are altered into prayer-mats, and he with his pen,
which has become his prayer-rope, traces the apparent in order to suggest to us the almost musical modulation of the
things not manifested.
The artist makes light his handiwork and the object of his hymnody, in order to reveal, through the echoes, its nature
not made with hands.
At the same time, he renders monumental the expression of the moment, to hint at that elusive and fleeting emotion which
serves as a stimulus for the peregrinations of the mind and the imagination.
His composition is solid, while the perspective borrows from Renaissance insight; nevertheless, the cerebral is
absent. This is because behind the point of access of the viewer, it is not, as we have said, a gaze based on in the
logic and certainty of security which lies in wait. Rather we sense that there is a heartbeat which agonizes over and
investigates the surface, transforming it into one which coruscates and deeply breathes, just as the ground is then
transformed in a similar way.
The ground is limpid and translucent, as Sophocles Christou traces with his pen on the edges of the tabernacle of
matter, palpating the skin of the rock and elsewhere of the flora in shades of black and white, just as our dreams seem
to be, which flare up, but are not consumed, with a passion fot life, as the artist translates on to his surfaces
aspects of his elegy.
Through his works, this artist takes us on a journey through a Greece of symbols, archetypes, and everyday
reality.
In effect, he accompanies us on this journey, pointing out the familiar as unknown, the ephemeral as eternal,the
forgotten as present in that liturgical time of now and for ever, leaving for himself the "beauty", as the poet said,
"from the splendid journey".
And we, disarmed, follow him, attempting to catch the spirit of his places and landscapes as he sensitizes us
spiritually by alerting all our senses.