Artist Q & A: Vicky Christou

In anticipation of her sublime new solo show Infinitude, Vancouver artist Vicky Christou reveals the origin of her signature sculptural extruded line painting style, and enlightens us on the ever-deepening connection between painting and meditation within her art practice. Infinitude opens in Bau-Xi Vancouver's Upper Gallery on April 1 and runs through April 12, 2023.

Installation of new works - L-R: Ephemeral Pursuit 2, Uplift 2, Heart Over Head 2, Ephemeral Pursuit 1, Fleeting Glance 1, Heart Over head 3. All 16 x 16 inches.


1. Your paintings are incredibly unique – how did you begin developing your technique and signature look, and who have been some of your most significant influences in your painting journey?

I began developing my current painting methodology in 1998.  I was working with small, collaged tiles made of paper. One of the goals was to create proportions of a thousand rectangles into a square.  I was gluing the tiles down with paint into a gridded format. This system left quite a bit of paint oozing out between the tiles - it intrigued me, and I began to reproduce this in-between quality of line by piping it out. I was interested in giving form to what was previously considered a negative or empty space, thereby making the tiled space invisible instead. During this time, I was beginning my meditation practice, so naturally, painting became a visual meditation. Every placement of a tile, piped line, or painted mark began with an affirmation of gratitude and being in that moment. My influences are traditional Vedic,Tibetan chants and mantras, as well as Brian Eno’s minimal music. Visually I am deeply inspired by Mondrian, especially his works where he visually deconstructs realistic forms into pure abstraction. I am also inspired by Yayoi Kusama and her infinity paintings. The Story of Sadako and The Thousand Cranes, based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki, has also stayed with me as a ritual and meditative inspiration. Also, significantly, my mother's crocheted blankets and handiwork are referenced in my paintings.


2. The square features strongly in your work, in the shape of your wood panels and within the grid pattern that you construct with extruded lines on the panels. What draws you to this form over rectangular panels?

I choose to use the square instead of the rectangle because I don’t want to reference the landscape or horizon in a traditional way. I also want the painting to become a sculptural object rather than an illusory image. I am following a formal adherence; however, my work and systems are rooted in personal expression and symbols.

Installation of new works - Upper left: Fractal Movement 2. Upper right: Energies. Lower left: Over Ice. Lower right: Enfolded Arrangement, 24 x 24 inches.

3. Your art practice has an intrinsic connection with meditation and breathwork. Can you share a little about your painting prep and extrusion process, and how you incorporate aspects of your meditative practice into your art?

Breathwork and meditation have been a combined practice to deepen my present-minded awareness and intention in the here and now.  As I apply the paint, I have found breathing and correct body positioning translates into the qualities of the drawn or applied painted line. The paint lines are visually composed records of accumulated breathing and body position awareness. This painting practice has become a meditative ritual, and it modifies itself depending on the scale of the works involved. I think ceramists experience this when throwing clay on a wheel - a certain body/breath alignment takes place which influences the outcome of the artwork.


4. Many paintings in your new collection reference elements in nature – water, light, air. How does your observation and felt experience of the natural world influence your work?

The influence of nature in my work is intrinsic to the work itself. Nature’s patterns and colours continually inspire me. The new gradient paintings are made with the colours observed in my experiential moments within nature - part of a tree silhouetted in a darkening sky, for example. I am captivated by the beauty and fleeting quality of light, how it can change appearances of solid matter into translucencies, or even make things invisible to our eyes when it does not shine upon them.


5. With this new collection you focus on the idea of the infinite and the Greek word Aperion, meaning that which is boundless, and your titles add to the evocative quality of your chosen palette and patterns. Can you elaborate on why this concept or philosophy is integral to your practice?

Aperion is a Greek word that has become a touchstone for my thoughts. It literally means boundless. It is often depicted as the infinity loop of figure eight. This concept of time and infinity intrigues me; how perhaps even though we are finite, there is a seemingly boundless cyclical quality that is entrusted and expressed in nature. This is the symbolic groundwork of my paintings - the eternal return.


                                   The artist.

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