“My life is troublesome, colourful and glamorous – it’s not easy to compromise but I’m always ready to learn and discover. Expeditions are a wonderful escape and help to arouse the mind”
Your studied Economics at the University of London – what made you turn to art?
I still follow Economic theories and practises worldwide. While at university in London, some photography caught my eye and became my first passion. I loved colour film photos and travelled the globe extensively to take photos and print them. Digital photography was a disappointment for me as it killed the drama and action of the catch. With the digital world, the catch is manipulated on computers behind the scenes…My second passion was motorsport, another form of Art. I didn’t have formal art education – I’m self-taught, but have read and researched in great depth. I was always fascinated by decorations, designs, art and culture and worked with contracts in home designs. It was in 2000, when in London refurbishing a house in Marble Arch, that I decided to try painting. Art is my third and biggest passion of all!
You describe your life as troublesome, colourful and glamorous – in which ways?
I think my personality and character has not helped in having a normal, relaxed easy going way of life. My indomitable, impulsive, always searching spirit, mind and brain pushed me towards a nomadic lifestyle. I don’t compromise or accept easily although I’m always ready to learn and discover. Expeditions are my escape. I need my mind to be aroused by new findings. In personal relationships, I hide a lot and focus on my dreams which is troublesome as partners or friends feel left out. I also went through two major difficult periods of life. The first was after an horrific accident in my rallying days where I was almost left paralysed. I had neurological operations in London and was lucky to escape the worst. The team of doctors told me to never again rally or make any dangerous movements. A year later, I was in the mountains rallying like crazy and travelling on dangerous expeditions to the Kinabalu Mountain in Borneo….discipline is not my strongest asset!
The second difficult part of my life was going through depression. I declined all sort of help and medicine and decided to fight it head on. It took me three years, in which I lost 20 kilos, many friends, most of my money and my dignity. This period of my life I will describe as a charisma and an anathema. The former as it helped me become a more caring person, and the latter as the pain was unbearable. The colourful and glamorous way of my life comes from the explosive part of character which likes to work hard and party harder.
Tell us about your time as a professional athlete
After my studies in London, I returned to Cyprus. I always followed motorsport but my preference was Rallying, especially the gravel stages. Cyprus was ideal due to its curvy, hard gravel stages. I started participating in local rallies in 1982. I fell in love with all things associated with this sport – the enormous hardship on the body, the teamwork of mechanics, managers, co-driver etc and was immersed body and soul. The technique is important and I practised very hard. I soon realised however that even if I conquered the technique of maximum flat out sideways and left foot braking, it would still be not enough. The way to be champion is to conquer your fear, and to push the limits just that bit more. Then that extra .01 of a second going faster on every corner to put you on the top place on the podium. The less the fear, the faster you are, the bigger the gain on extra seconds. The problem is, that the less the fear, the greater the chances of accidents. In 1984, Marlboro cigarettes were introduced in Cyprus and the Middle East. Cigarette advertising at the time was legal so the Marlboro Rally Team was formed to promote Marlboro. Three drivers were chosen from Dubai, Qatar and Cyprus. I was thrilled to be chosen for three years and became Cyprus’ first professional athlete even before football became pro in our island. It put extreme pressure on me as I had to compete at the highest level and win. In 1985, I was Cyprus Rally Champion and as a present, I was selected to compete in more rallies in the Marlboro team in Middle East, Jordan, Dubai and Greece. The experience was remarkable and unforgettable. Sometimes people ask me how it’s possible to move from rally to art and I believe that the adrenaline is there in whatever you do. As I pushed and extended the boundaries of fear, I push my mind to extend my limitations and create unique beautiful art.
Your artistic style is quite unique – one which you have termed “Christos is Passion” – why?
Possibly being self-taught helped to free my mind, and open my spirit… My travels, love of colours and Asia, my observations, a mind full of dreams and many hours of work. The myriad of patterns and colours are my strength. The diversity in my art is because I find it boring to repeat the same thing many times. The technique is irrelevant, as I’m not interested in perfect lines, in fact, quite the contrary. I do hard, rough, imperfect figures and lines and even use paint as if one colour finished in the middle of my work forcing me to use another. My brushes are torn, the canvas or wood fights to survive my fearsome hits and the contradictions need to be evident. The end result of all this great bloodshed, in my eyes, should be harmonious and gorgeous looking. I destroy or paint on top of all the art I don’t feel has the right final finish. This style is what I call ‘Christos is Passion.’
What is your preferred medium?
I started with oil and then used anything from everywhere. Red oil hues from China used in calligraphy and ancient scripts, black eyelash paint from Oman and Gold from Thailand used to cover Buddhas. When I travel, I’m constantly searching for materials. Next month, I’m off to Malaysia and Bali. Bali is my home really – I’ve been twelve times and love the culture and vivid character of the island. I use gold leaves used in icons, wood, canvas, fabrics, steel and glass. Now I use acrylic paints as they dry faster and have a huge colour palette. I use them un-watered and prefer to mix fluorescents with pastels, fabric paints etc.
Sculpture is my next project. I did a few wooden ones but now I am studying metals and metal machines, glues and welding and hope soon to set up a state of art studio that will facilitate operations for metal sculptures of titanium, nickel and aluminium.
Tell us about your painting process as you’ve already said you’re not disciplined…
Well, I’m disciplined as a father! I love being responsible and close to my children. I’m also tidy and clean with my paints and materials in line, and my studio super clean. But, my art painting style does not present my finished artwork as beautifully as it would if done in a disciplined way. Sometimes I sketch my ideas or figures in pencil but generally I am completely free.
What inspires you?
My brain never stops really – I’ve never had difficulty in starting and I dream of colours. Travels, imagination, observation…I look at something of no importance but can have an idea which come at all times of the day.
You’ve had incredible success with solo exhibitions in Cyprus , London, New York, Paris, Berlin and Hong Kong – do you arrange everything yourself?
I’ve been on a world tour the past three years with my work appreciated worldwide. I’m very excited about a huge solo exhibition in Manhattan, New York in March 2018, competing with the best. I began in London and since then, receive invitations. I arrange a lot myself and even do my wooden boxes and transport, but also work closely with Galleries who take on the whole procedure. I’m also learning to work on computers to promote my work on social media, which is essential. Many galleries and collectors as well as magazines use social media to source new artists. In fact, even you found me through Facebook!
You say that contemporary art is thousands of years old – what are you inferring?
If you see ancient civilizations artworks from Aboriginals to Egypt, Peru, Asia, and Hellas – all have patterns, figures, signs and drawings in differing ways including abstracts. In any era, we have the contemporary art of the time. So, what I’m trying to say is that contemporary art is always a past, as it’s so volatile and fast moving. Emerging new contemporary art can be found in caves or shells which are thousands of years old.
Working with children always makes an impact in some way – how has it affected you?
It’s a super experience which I cherish as the children liked my art and showed their appreciation, respect and love. Schools should use more external artists to introduce children to art and culture. Municipalities in Cyprus have a responsibility to promote art and culture, but I’m sad to see little done. Children need direction, vision and tasks. Give them ideas and dreams and try to make them creative, to feel unique and special and they will. Being part of a team, whether it’s football, basketball or formula one racing does not make you a winner. Anyone can announce themselves as a Barcelona team supporter, but you can’t be the winner of a championship unless you won it!!
What do you think would make the world a better place?
More love, fewer financial products, oil and pills. My slogan is Love the Planet, Love Yourself and Respect our Children.
The human brain has unfortunately not been developed for thousands of years. Humanity is in decline with governments and controlling organisations, religions and financial institutions merely interested in business and material wealth. Wars, poverty and hunger prevail with the vast majority of the planet in hardship. Material wealth is concentrated on a handful of people and organisations. I believe in people being happy in social justice and in becoming better through education and culture. I am a world citizen and love Earth our Planet.
What about the private Christos?
I would like to have the opportunity to help in aesthetically improving areas by the sea through art and culture and have announced 10 proposals in my Facebook profile Christos Eliades ART.