Many years have gone by since Chryssa, as a student of the School of Fine Arts, painted a Cycladic idol looking through a window at the Exarcheia of our youth. The statues returned to their natural place, went back to the muddy womb of the excavation site, and Chryssa rushed over to paint them (or to ‘write up their life’), just as in her work with the woman’s statue at Dion that I have in front of me right now.
The statues returned to the museum (the exhibits at Dion are now concrete replicas, after all), but Chryssa remained at the sweaty mud of streams, rivers and bogs. Not even Kraounakis set them so beautifully to music…
In other years, other journeys, her brushes and canvases were caught in the salty spray of the Corinthian Gulf, in the times when Thomas reigned over the seas. Her brush sought some shade; it found itself crawling behind a gourd squash, resting under an old olive tree, taking seeds from the pomegranates of Pallantzas… and following the painter on her journey.
This year I found her washing her brushes in the quiet waters and the thin-grained mud of the river. She told me to met her at its springs and allowed me to cool down under its plane trees, to smell their lusty shade, to balance on the iron gangways of the invisible fleet of the lake which is fed by the murmuring waters—but I was not to tell anyone “what the river was called”. I stayed at its banks as long as I could… I left the August heat at the springs, took the road to town and came to see Chryssa’s works in the air-conditioned riverside venue on Vrilissos. But no five-span Roman aqueducts grow in this river.
I must have tired you….
Chryssa has painted (or, again, ‘written up the life of’) a mountainous water basin formed by the springs of a river. She caught the needlework of the dragonfly upon the glassy water, and brought those concentric ripples into her works. She sucked the wet shade under the fig tree so hard that the bubbles of water that rise from the bottom started to hop around in the bottom of her canvases. Fizzy works—just think about it! The painter rightly saw this space as a life-giving womb, a crater of cosmogony, and from the shallow depth of the crystal water basin she retrieved the fragmenta of a universe of iridescence, reflections, skies and bottoms. Without sounds, because life in that universe is so deafening that it dresses itself up as silence.
You will see some cute titles on the works in the exhibition. Smile if you find them playful or tender, but appreciate them like a mumble, like the timbre in a mute landscape where the colours are reflected kaleidoscopically; like the words you would hear if you, too, were allowed into the secret river of Chryssa.
Tessellae of water, ripples of colour. Shall we dance?
Ioannina, 3 September 2010
Asst. Professor of Archaeology
University of Ioannina
Marginal landscapes meet the sky and the earth.
On the mirrors of the fluid surface.
The bottom is a primordial, amphibian memory
of an invisible yet perceptible life.
Cosmic whispers; “everything flows”
on the verge, the edge, the border.
Borderline images in my own clearings,
my own staging game.
Colours replace the words,
which go back to their original silence.
Like a believer who sees the impalpable miracle
in the humblest things, I paint –
the miracle we have forgotten back in our childhood.
The void of nostalgia is filled –at last–
by a reunification.
This “locus” is sacred, it is a return.
The quest for the universal mother.
To whom the sea is a “landscape”
life seems easy, and death as well.
To the other one it is a mirror of immortality,
It is “duration”.
…With her exquisite skill in drawing and her rare sensitivity to colour, Chryssa Verghi visually reforms and conveys borderline images at the point where elements of nature and forgotten human moments emerge.
The light pervades and links together mirror images and reflections, depth and surfaces, distant or recent episodes whose ‘takes’ remind you of a fragmented cinematic narrative…
…Poetic hints and allegories about the humble, overlooked things which, however, impart an aura of mystagogy on everything the gaze embraces and appropriates, are presented in a major role in these works which immediately attract the viewers’ attention, taking their mind and their senses on a journey far beyond their original semantics.
Athena Schena, Professor of History of Art , National Kapodistrian University of Athens
In art, the subject is a pretext, and little interest attaches to it. It is raw material, which by the end of the creative process will no longer be what it was. We seek only transformation, the transcendence which will transport the original material from the world of the five senses into the infinite field of the soul – into the place where memory knows how to retain only the essential stimulus, that infinitesimal thing which, like Democritus’ atom, also encloses the entire universe.
This concise and minimal quality, produced only by the artist’s personal truth, is what we no longer find in the market-place of art, and especially in the painting of the current period. That is why each encounter with it has a generative effect on our life, creating a feeling that our fears, our joy, our silence and our doubts are shared by others. It is a way of existing, a way of ceasing to feel alone.
Chryssa Verghi throws herself into this tyranny of the strictly personal (though without going to extremes, seeking to create cheap impressions, or hiding behind masks), into the narrow defile of Art in which everything superfluous and useless will be crushed. She knows that her art is only a road, a path which has no end and which promises nothing: no place anywhere, no entry in the dictionary of current events. All it holds in store is battle and confrontation with the cruelest opponent: the artist herself.
Antonis Κ. Kyriazanos
…The view of the motif from above, from a distance, prescribes the vertical development of the composition which rules out the horizon. Thus the heresy of perspective is avoided, which, moreover, is ordained by the aesthetics of modernism, while the painting surface itself is identified with the motif…
…She makes her painting material both thicker and thinner using glazing, impasto, coatings and palimpsests in order to create images which sometimes refer to the traditional landscape and other times are more reminiscent of the lunar landscape of Tapies while at still other times they show a connection with the gestural work of Pollock…
Marina Lambraki-Plaka, Professor of the History of Art, Director of the National Gallery
…The illustrating skill is great, and spectators could stop at enjoying this aptitude; yet upon a second reading the pictures reveal a dynamic vacillation between the recognisable and the abstract, between “order” and “chaos”, since from up close the works seem almost abstract, with brush strokes that are at once self-sufficient and communicative.
Haris Kambouridis, Αrt Historian, Art Critic, Semiologist, Head of the Institute of Modern Greek Art Archives