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Mattheos Christou

The predominant theme of his work is peace. Peace in its obvious sense – as opposed to war and aggression, but also the peace that brings calmness to our lives, and the peace to listen to peace, so that we can shut out the raucous soundtrack of the world.

Mattheos Christou was born in Cyprus, in 1956. It was a year notable for conflicts including Britain and France bombing Egypt, USSR testing its nuclear bomb, the Battle of Algiers, Cyprus fighting the British for independence, and the Soviets invading Hungary. Conflict returned to Cyprus in 1974, although by then Mattheos was in Athens, at the School of Fine Arts. Among his tutors was Dimitris Mytaras, one of the most important Greek painters of the 20th century.

The curving shapes in the paintings of Mattheos Christou are free and spontaneous; there are no aggressive hard angles or sharp lines, and for him their absence represents peace. The forms in his paintings remind one of the serenely simplified sculptures of Brancusi. This sculptural approach, with its economic colour palette of blue, red, ochre and brown acrylics, with painted black borders instead of frames, combine to create his distinctive recognizable style. This is a style that he has retained throughout the years, although recently he introduced the colour green to convey optimism, and the eyes always depicted with a soulful Byzantine gaze, are often closed in contemplation or meditation.

Small boats rock gently on blue horizons; a visual metaphor for the quest of Odysseus on his eternal journey seeking fulfilment, while on the shore Penelope endlessly waits and dreams. The white dove is the universal symbol of peace and hope, although in mythology, doves accompany female deities, especially erotic Aphrodite, whereas in Christianity the dove is the emblem of the Holy Spirit. Mattheos enjoys playing with the varying meanings of the symbolism he incorporates.

Apart from peace, it is family relationships that are the most important factor in Mattheos Christou’s life. He constantly uses imagery relating to integrated family groups; they express his desire for us all to be united in peace – far beyond our own lives and family circles – rippling out across the seas harmoniously to include the universal family of Man in a world without conflict.

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