“In memory of Christella, whose work had a profound effect on the cultural life of the Greek Community of Melbourne, with the request that the following excerpt and images about the life and work of Christella Demetriou be used for inclusion in the Greek Australian Art Directory (GAAD).”
Media Press Release
Run and Fly, Monster Tooth!*
A posthumous exhibition of paintings by artist Christella Demetriou
1st – 30th May 2019
Darebin Arts Centre, cnr Bell St & St Georges Rd, Preston, Vic. 3072
A posthumous exhibition by Christella Demetriou, Run and Fly, Monster Tooth!, will premiere at the Darebin Arts Centre on Wednesday, 1st May. The retrospective will feature a selection of works spanning Demetriou’s career as well as artefacts celebrating her diverse and multi-layered creative life.
Esther Anatolitis, Executive Director of the National Association for the Visual Arts, will open the exhibition. Commissioner, Rosaria Zarro will represent the Victorian Multicultural Commission. Artist & curator, chair of arts Mildura board, founder of museum of innocence Mildura, Domenico De Clario, & poet Andrea Demetriou (The Inconsolable Clock) will speak about her work.
Christella Demetriou was an artistic polyglot. She not only excelled as a painter, but was also a composer, a classic instrumentalist of the bouzouki, an unknown poet and an athlete. A refugee from what is now occupied Cyprus, Christella and her family migrated to Australia in 1976. She exhibited widely and performed in both Australia and Greece.
As a painter Christella was an artistic cryptographer, she used abstraction to hide within her paintings everything she could not endure, everything she could not face. She paints her feelings, 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. 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.
According to curator Mitch Goodwin, “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.”
Christella rarely spoke directly in her paintings, however the directness of her poetry and the indirectness of her colours are communicating vessels. 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.”
Monster Tooth was Christella’s childhood nickname. A day after her death, artist and curator Elizabeth Gertsakis wrote to her friend, Run and fly, beautiful one!
Christella Demetriou passed away in 2018 at the age of 52.
Poetry Night (related event). On Monday the 13th of May at Ithaca house, Level 2, 329 Elizabeth St., Melbourne, at 7 p.m., 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.