Image courtesy of Chrysanne Stathacos.
Chrysanne Stathacos is a multidisciplinary artist of Greek, American, and Canadian heritage. Her work is heavily influenced by feminism, Greek mythology, the natural environment, eastern spirituality, and Tibetan Buddhism. Stathacos has exhibited for over 40 years in museums, galleries and public spaces internationally. She has had numerous solo exhibitions including Gold Rush at Cooper Cole, Toronto (2018-19) and Pythia, The Breeder, Athens, Greece (2017). Her recent installations have been featured in AA Bronson’s Garten der Lüste, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2018) and The Sculpture Park, Madhavendra Palace, Jaipur, India, (2018-2020). Stathacos will participate in the 13th Gwangju Biennale, / Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning, South Korea in 2021.
AGO: How would you define your practice?
Stathacos: For me, art is born from a deep longing to be one with the natural world.
Thoughts of desire often fill our minds as we try to get what we want while we miss the roots of what actually sustains us. When catastrophes occur, we reconnect, we remember, we tie ribbons to trees, we touch water with awe, we weep by a candle’s glow, we hold a stone in memory, and link fingers, wishing hoping praying for healing. These reflexes and ritual actions are the core of my artistic practice, a reflection of a past time when understanding the true power of nature was part of daily life. As a practicing artist for the past fifty years and a Buddhist, traveling around the world, I deeply believe that we are all interconnected, regardless of our backgrounds and countries; that we all desire happiness, and at times turn to the natural world to help us heal our hearts.
AGO: What was the inspiration for this artwork or series
Stathacos: My artworks shown here span 30 years of my creative investigation into the spiritual properties inherent in nature by imprinting ivy, roses, and marijuana plants onto canvas in conjunction with meditation and performance activities.
Venice and 1-900 Mirror Mirror were created at the height of the AIDS pandemic in the early 1990’s. Both works used direct impressions from nature however they are they of different media. Venice is from my performative printed painting series evoking vulnerability and loss through repeated patterning of leaves, hair and flowers yet spreading hope through nature’s beauty. The recent temporal Rose Mandala installations and performances have an ongoing dialogue with these paintings.
Chrysanne Stathacos,1-900 Mirror Mirror, 1993-2020, Mirror, plexiglass, wood, videophone, steel table, hand printed hair, ivy, roses on mirror. dimensions variable, each panel is 96 x 48 in (243.8 x 121.9 cm). Design Consultant - Ken Saylor. Courtesy of the artist, The Breeder, Athens and Cooper Cole, Toronto.
1-900 Mirror Mirror is an interactive mirrored sculptural installation first presented in 1993 at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York. I remember oceans of tears merged with snowstorms as I traveled between New York City and Toronto. Our friends and partners were dying. I conceived the work to discover what viewers might ask when confronted by their own image in an infinity chamber. This was prompted by the anxiety felt by me and my community due to the AIDS crisis before there was any successful treatment. I connected with the viewer in the gallery by video phone as I sat in my Little Italy apartment with my tarot cards. What would they ask? What would I answer as I picked a card? I hoped to create a transformative experience, hope and healing unfolding within the never-ending vision of one’s self, seen through my hand printed images of roses, ivy, and hair. This past spring, during another pandemic, 1-900 Mirror Mirror was exhibited in There are more than four, curated by Jacob Korczynski at Cooper Cole Gallery, Toronto.
AGO: Tell us about a place or a space where you most love making your work?
Stathacos: I have always loved making my work not only in traditional gallery spaces but also in outside sites; train stations, parks, wading pools, ancient locations, cathedrals and heritage sites. As an artist with a Greek background, I've explored links between ancient Greece and India over a 35 year period. In 2018, my installation, “The Five Mirrors of the World” was installed at The Sculpture Park, Madhavendra Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur; fulfilling a dream I had to create a work at a heritage site in India. The Madhavendra Palace, Nahargarh Fort is a beautiful 19th-Century fortress with intimate spaces, finely painted frescos and grand courtyards set in a dramatic setting on a hill overlooking the pink city of Jaipur. Thousands of people visited it daily. It was an extraordinary experience.
AGO: Are you in dialogue with any other artists or creative peers about your practice? If so, how does this dialogue feed your work?
Stathacos: I am often in dialogue with my artist friends in Berlin, Athens, Delhi, New York and of course Toronto.
My dialogue with AA Bronson started in the late 1970s with the project “Terminal Building” for A Space, Toronto and has continued to this day. We share a personal history and friendship – the loss of many friends to AIDS along with interests in shamanistic healing, Tibetan Buddhism, oracles, and much more.
Chrysanne Stathacos, Pythia’s Rose Mandala, 2018, Installation, performance, video in conjunction with the exhibition "AA Bronson's Garten der Lüste", 2018. KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Installation, performance and video (roses, bronze, mirror, and glass). Dimensions variable- Courtesy of the artist, and The Breeder, Athens. Thanks to The Canada Council.
For the past decade AA has included my Rose Mandala installations and performances in his exhibitions at prestigious spaces in Europe and New York City which has given me the opportunity to expand my vision and artistic practice. As Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo has noted, “For me the Rose Mandalas evocatively symbolise the gradual unfolding of our innate nature. Conversely these mandalas remind us of the inherent impermanence of even the beautiful”. Most recently, “Pythia Rose Mandala” (below) was presented in “AA Bronson’s Garten Der Luste” at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.