Chryssa Vardea-Mavromichali

Chryssa Vardea-Mavromichali



Chryssa Vardea Mavromichalis, known also as “Chryssa”, was born in 1933 in Athens.

In 1953, she worked for a short period for the aid of the earthquake victims of Zakynthos but she also moved to Paris in order to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière for one year and she enhanced her knowledge by completing her studies at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco the following year.

Finishing her studies, she remained in New York, where she begun to create her Collection named as “Books from Cyclades”. Those artworks were made by white plaster cast of packaging cartons whose folded sheets and their white simplicity would create engravings that will refer to the most known figurines of Cyclades.

Simultaneously the same period, she created paintings and wall-mounted installations made of metal or plaster in which she imprinted embossed letters and symbols.

In the early 1960s, influenced by the vibrant urban landscape of New York, and in particular by China Town and Time Square she pioneered in adding neon lighting as part of her artworks.

Six years later, she constructed one of her finest and most preeminent artworks of the period, the monumental “The Gates to Times Square”. This artwork is a three dimensional sculpture of blue neon, steel and plexi glass in which the viewer can penetrate and immerse himself in the artwork’s world of symbols and lighting.

Furthermore, she collaborated with Betty Parsons Gallery, where she mounted her first solo exhibition with PACE Gallery and with Leo Castelli. In the following years, she arranged again solo exhibitions and also included her artworks in group exhibitions along with other artists, at the most well-known and important Museums of the world, such as MOMA, Whitney Museum of American Art and Guggenheim. In parallel, she participated in the most important institutional exhibitions in Europe, such as “Documenta” in Kassel (1968, 1977) and in Venice Biennale in 1972.

In the 80s, she started using cellular aluminum along with neon lighting to wall-mounted sculptural installations that would conquer prominently the given space with English and Chinese writing. Those sculptures would often refer to famous metropolitan streets and squares such as “Mott Street”, “Piccadilly Circus” and “Chinatown”.

Between the years 1992 and 1994 she moved back in Athens and she renovate an old cinema into her workshop where she created a new Collection of Artworks made from combining aluminum along with neon lighting and sound recordings captured from the city of Athens. This collection was named as “Cinema Oasis” and it was exhibited in Leo Castelli Gallery in 1996.

In 2007, Chryssa returned permanently in Athens, where she remained until her death in December of 2013.