Composer, musician and visual artist, Christella Demetriou passed away in 2018, at the age of 52 after a long battle with cancer.
Melbourne’s creative community and especially the Greek music community have been mourning the loss of the talented Cypriot and will be holding a retrospective featuring a selection of works spanning Christella’s career as well as artefacts celebrating her diverse and multi-layered creative life as an artistic polyglot.
The exhibition is named after Christella’s childhood nickname ‘Monster Tooth’ and a letter her dear friend, artist and curator Elizabeth Gertsakis addressed to her day after her death, titled ‘Run and fly, beautiful one!’.
Meanwhile, Esther Anatolitis, Executive Director of the National Association for the Visual Arts, will open the exhibition alongside commissioner, Rosaria Zarro representing the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
Artist and curator, chair of arts Mildura board and founder of museum of innocence Mildura, Domenico De Clario will also join poet Andrea Demetriou (The Inconsolable Clock) who will speak about her work.
She not only excelled as a painter, but was also a composer, a classic instrumentalist of the bouzouki, an unknown poet and an athlete.
Christella’s family arrived in Australia as refugees in 1976 and it was exactly that heritage and dual identity that inspired her.
The deeply rooted pain of being uprooted, of not belonging, and finally her constant and chronic confrontation with cancer are indelible themes of her work.
“Christella’s paintings make for difficult, but soulful viewing. They are darkly euphoric explorations of the contrasting, often conflicting, modes of abstract expression. They endure because they explore a longing; a constant search,” acclaimed curator Mitch Goodwin, once said.
Throughout her career, she exhibited widely and performed in both Australia and Greece, painting her feelings and her despair at the elusiveness and the falsification of love.
Her inability to reconcile her dreams with reality, her mother with her father, life with death, the invisible wound with the visible indifference are also quite evident in her works.
That ‘inability’ or rather a coping mechanism that turned Christella into what is called an ‘artistic cryptographer’; she used abstraction to hide within her paintings everything she could not endure, everything she could not face.
She had found a way to use the raw directness of her poetry and the indirectness of her colours and depictions as communicating vessels.
But from her hospital bed, when she was stripped of all sense of ego, insecurity or fear, she spoke her last words of love.
Looking her sister straight in the eye, she said, “People are afraid to look at love directly, it’s overpowering. You are pure love, inside out, upside down, from all angles.” She also whispered to her, slowly and in anguish, “Life is a journey in the desert without relief… but you break the nightmare.”
When: 1 – 30 May 2019, Opening: 1 May, 6pm. Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Where:Darebin Arts Centre, cnr Bell St & St Georges Rd, Preston, VIC
- Guided Tour
On Sunday, 5 May at 12.30-3.00 pm at the Darebin Arts Centre will be open while Elizabeth Gertsakis and Andrea Demetriou will be giving guided tours of the exhibition.
- Poetry Night
On Monday the 13 May at 7 pm at Ithaca house (Level 2, 329 Elizabeth St, Melbourne) academic Nick Trakakis will present his translation of major contemporary Greek poet Tassos Livaditis, whose poems have been set to music by Mikis Theodorakis.
Some of the most polemic poems of Vassos Lyssarides, legendary leader and honorary president of the Socialist Party of Cyprus, will be read as a tribute on his 99th birthday; Edward Caruso will speak about his new poetry collection Blue Milonga which travels across the natural and political landscape of Argentina and Chile.
Garry Foley will present Andrea Demetriou’s poetry book, The Inconsolable Clock, which expands from the wars for resources to the existential dead end, and is introduced by Christos Tsiolkas.
Finally poems by Christella Demetriou, translated by her friend Pavlos Andronikos, will be read.
*For further information contact 0414 420 139