Way of the St. James, is a network of scenic pilgrimage routes that passes through the several villages across Europe leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia located northwest of Spain. Since Medieval times many Christians and followers of the faith pilgrim through these various routes to reach the final destination as a form of spiritual retreat or the journey for their spiritual growth. A true, brave and spiritual pilgrim of the path traditionally walks by foot from home across Europe to the shrine of Saint James the Great.
I have heard of this glorious legend and the tradition that is being practiced for over 1000 years, even present day. However, I had never met anyone in person who braved this spiritually enlightening journey until I met a beard clad, simple, humorous but bluntly straight forward and a man of few words - Christophe Terraz, an artist and owner of art gallery in Greater Zurich called Valley Art located in Kemptthal.
Christophe, was born in 1973 in Affoltern am Albis district of canton Zurich, Switzerland made this pilgrimage of hundreds of kilometers from Obfelden to Santiago de Compostella in 2007. The very journey transforms himself as person and very much the creative being in him as well. After this journey he passionately lets his experiences, impressions, and emotions that he gathered on this pilgrimage flow into his works. It is the time he begins telling his stories of lifetime through each painting - that is life of being a ‘human’.
Christophe had a most memorable childhood in Obfelden, his native town, in the Säuliamt region of Zurich. It was that time he was inclined and inspired to be artistic. When his grandfather and great patron Max Fasler first bought a painting from him in 1983, when he was just 10 year old, he had the first vision of becoming an artist. However, as he grew up he first did his apprenticeship as a draftsman, then preliminary course at the School for Design in Zurich in 1995. Afterwards he took vocational training with part-time working possibilities. Later he was studied and qualified as Psychiatric nurse in 1996 as well.
Two years later in 1998 he fell seriously ill. With a lot of luck and an iron will, the artist in him fights his way back into life and finishes his education. This drastic experience of life and death of these times connects his being, especially the artist in him, to the heavenly ethereal world. His experiences of the moment and angelic apparitions greatly influences his works. With the new body of creations of these experiences he realizes a solo exhibition depicting 7 mighty arch angels with oil on cardboard in Birmensdorf (ZH) with the loving hep of his siter.
A decade later, in 2010, his health situation worsens again that forces him to quit his job as workshop manager at Götschihof. But fortunately, a year later, his own beloved mother gives him a new life by donating her own kidney. This renewed health brings back Christophe to new rejuvenated life. With more vitality again, he starts working several hours a day in his studio and indulges his soul into creative world of his own. As a result, his new works are embedded in landscapes, which describes of these moments and experiences of his life. In the large solo exhibition "EMPFANG" 2013, Christophe shows these works and re-launches himself as a dedicated full-time artist.
Christophs imageries are poems of experiences and emotions of human life, mostly beautiful and touching ones. Therefore prior to 2010 his imageries were mostly about his experiences of self-healing and spiritual conquest and connectedness to self. He creates forms and figures using different tones of pastel and vivid colours to create angelic realms, movement of healing energy, sky, element of human life, earth and nature.
However, after recovering from illness and kidney transplant in 2010 he bounces back with new zeal of energy and inspiration. As a result, his works takes more mystical and spiritual shape in terms of their visual language. He introduces more vibrant colors with dots and aura filled circles, translucent and floating forms and figures. Mostly he combines the whole composition to create imagery that depicts mysticism and expressions of spiritually driven intuitive world.
Today, Christophe is also a beloved husband and father to 4 loving children. They are his inspirations as much as the inspirations and impressions he collects from the nature or his travelings around the world. Presently, he does his best to balance his life between family, art gallery and his own life as an artist. However, his vision of creation is simple, “reduce imagery, bring lot of energy and joy to the canvas,” as he says.
(Copyright 2021, Deviprasad C Rao. Author is an Artist, Curator, Writer & Artist Facilitator. Founder of Devamitra Artists Collective based in Zurich, Switzerland. He can be reached through this website www.deviprasad.com)