An evening of magic
When we first started talking about Christian Brechneff’s book back in January, nobody expected that all these discussions would have led to such an evening of magic. We sent the first email to Christian relating our enthusiasm about his book “The Greek House – The story of a painter’s love affair with the island of Sifnos” and our desire to organise a presentation on Sifnos. We were delighted to receive his answer in almost no time and to find out that he had hoped he would manage to organise a presentation as he would come to Greece and Sifnos in May for the shooting of a documentary about his life and work. We immediately offered to help him organise this special evening! That first email was the beginning of a very enthusiastic relationship with a true artist. Christian arrived in Athens mid-May and soon enough we boarded a boat to Sifnos. The first presentation in Greece of the book was to take place on Saturday 17 May.
Christian was born in the Belgian Congo in 1950 and was raised and educated in Switzerland and the United States. In the beginning of the 70’s, searching for artistic inspiration, he found himself on Sifnos by pure chance and he stayed for 30 years. His book “The Greek House – The story of a painter’s love affair with the island of Sifnos” is a funny, wonderful and warm narrative of his relationship with Sifnos and its residents. He bought a house that became his personal haven until the moment he decided to look for his inspiration elsewhere and he departed for the United States. He describes in a unique way not only the story of his own life but also the way the island changed through the years – from the time when there were barely any roads to the arrival of the high-speed boats and the tourists. A story of a young artist who wove himself into the life of the island, painting it year after year, and found a place he could call home.
In the evening of the presentation at Verina Astra, Christian welcomed his Sifniot friends but also people spending their vacation on Sifnos. Make no mistake, a large crowd had come to honour this great friend of Sifnos. He read to them excerpts from his book and shared with them a glass of wine and many memories that moved not only him but all of his guests. It had to be expected during one of the first wonderful summer evenings, in a place with an amazing view over the Aegean Sea, that maybe reminded him of his first leaps of the heart for the island of Sifnos. This beautiful evening was properly documented by Michael Magee, the person behind the camera who was the shadow of Christian as he is filming the documentary on him. We look forward to watching his work as Michael, although visiting for the first time, was immediately mesmerised by Sifnos.
The book of Christian has received enthusiastic reviews. Steven Kurutz of the New York Times writes: “After reading the book. . . I wanted to drop everything and go to Sifnos, the rocky island in the Aegean Sea lovingly portrayed in his memoir”.
The book “The Greek House – The story of a painter’s love affair with the island of Sifnos” is currently available only in English and one can find it at the Sifnos’ bookstore and the hotels Verina Astra and Verina Suites. The artist announced that he has waived his intellectual property rights for the Greek edition of the book and he would really love to see it translated into the Greek language.
Thank you, Christian, for this wonderful evening! See you soon!