Art Becomes Nature
Curated by Philip Christou
Art Becomes Nature
Photographs by Van Christou
“Art and beauty are not well described, but they can be well felt and lived. Many observe, fewer examine, and fewer still abandon analysis and simply experience fulfilment. Van’s art is self-expressive. It touches without analysis or instruction. Simply let it enter your realm.
His vision gracefully becomes our vision. Nature-soul’s diet-is art. Van’s art becomes nature and accordingly, nourishes us.”
Judge R.D.Bell, Preface to Land of Shining Mountains, 1998
Van Christou was born in Lethbridge in 1926, and died in Sept 2017. He was an enthusiastic and prolific photographer throughout his adult life. While he was a post-graduate student in orthodontics at the Eastman Institute of Dentistry in Rochester, NY in 1948-49 he was introduced to the technical and artistic possibilities of photography. He returned to Lethbridge in 1950 to work with Dr. J.S. Stewart for a one year experience in general dentistry practice before specializing as an orthodontist. In 1952 he married Helen Afaganis and they decided to live in Lethbridge where he practiced orthodontics and raised a family of four children.
Van’s love of the beauty of Southern Alberta, the open landscape of the prairies and the drama of the mountains, and his deep interest in the visual arts led him to begin painting. Many of the ways of seeing natural beauty around himself that he experienced as a painter were translated into photography as an art form. He had a passionate interest in documenting the colour of the prairie sunrise, or the special translucency of the early morning sun as it illuminated the Rocky Mountains rising over the prairies in the West. Van took his camera with him wherever he went.
Many people will know his photos from the book he published in 1998, titled ‘Land of Shining Mountains’. Van Christou’s photographs are held the collections of the Lethbridge Public Library, Lethbridge Regional Hospital, and the Lethbridge Seniors Centre. They have received awards and have been published in photographic journals.
When the Nikka Yuko Centennial Japanese Garden in Lethbridge was built in 1967 as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the federation of Canada, and to honour the mutual friendship between Japan and Canada, Van took an active personal interest in the design and construction of the garden. This led to an association that granted him access to photograph the garden through all seasons for the past 50 years. The images have been printed in calendars and the book ‘Garden of Serenity’ written by Robert Hironaka and June Flanagan.
For many years Van was an active and enthusiastic member of the Lethbridge Photography Club. He enjoyed the challenge of working with new concepts and techniques in photography until his last days. His appreciation and involvement in the arts, and his love of the beauty of the natural landscape has resulted in a unique personal record of Southern Alberta taken over the past 70 years.
The Christou family is pleased to present this show as a way to honour Van Christou’s generosity, enthusiasm and artistry. The exhibition is curated by Van’s son Philip Christou, an architect who lives in London England. Photographs will be on sale giving people the opportunity to enjoy Van’s art on a daily basis in their own home. Proceeds of the sale will be donated to the Allied Arts Council in Lethbridge, to help fund arts education programmes, something Van always supported with passion.
Public opening reception: Saturday 24 Nov. 2018 from 2:00 until 10:00 p.m.
Exhibition dates: 26 Nov. – 15 Dec. 2018.
Trianon Gallery 104 – 5th Street, Lethbridge, T1J 2B2 Tel: (403) 380-2787