Polycroniadi Celeste (1904 - 1985)

She was born in Athens in 1904 and initially studied music at the Athens Conservatory. In 1930 she went to Paris, where she studied ceramics, mosaic, drawing and painting at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and at Suzanne Valadon's studio. She familiarized herself with the modernist art movements of the era and was associated with Surrealism in particular, which would decisively influence her artistic journey thereafter. She participated in various Parisian Salons and presented a solo exhibition with ceramic works (Le Portique gallery, 1933). At the same time, she began to exhibit in Athens, mainly ceramic and decorative works.
In 1934 she returned to Athens, became a member of the art group 'Techni' and undertook the management of the gallery Studio (renamed Galerie d' Art), where she took the chance to organize a George Bouzianis exhibition, despite the negative attitude of the Athenian public. She organized her first solo exhibition with exclusive paintings at the Stratigopoulou gallery in 1938.
After the end of the german Occupation, she presented a series of drawings entitled Occupation 1940-44 (Parnassus gallery, 1946). An album of those drawings was published in 1961.
From 1946 to 1953 she lived in New York, where she worked with Jacques Selligman gallery and was acquainted with the movement of Abstract Expressionism. Apart from paintings, she created sculptures and ceramic works in collaboration with architects and interior designers. Her work had already acquired an abstract direction, while retaining its surrealist origins.
In the early '60s she settled in Athens permanently and she often presented her work at the Nees Morfes gallery. Her artistic quests rank her among those painters who largely contributed to the establishment of Abstraction in Greece. However, her rich and diverse work also includes figurative works with symbolic references to the past. A very distinctive aspect of her overall activity was the illustration of poems in Unicum.
Until her death (Athens, 1985) she had presented over 10 solo exhibitions and had participated in many group ones, in Greece and abroad (France, Switzerland, England, Israel, USA, etc.). She represented Greece at the Alexandria Biennale (1961, 1st printmaking prize) and at the Biennale of Sao Paulo (1963). Her first retrospective exhibition was held in 1980 (Trito Mati gallery) and included works created from 1930 to 1960, while in 2008, the Nees Morfes gallery presented her comprehensive retrospective exhibition and published a monograph on her work.