By Arlene Snyder, Special to the Gazette
Paintings and drawings by Jamaica Plain artist Cynthia Kollios are on display this month at Taylor House Bed and Breakfast, part of the long-running Music and Art series there.
Kollios moved to JP in the 1980s after art school and immediately began to draw the old Victorian houses throughout the neighborhood. Then and there, she found the hallmarks of her work: a strong sense of place and a strong sense of line.
Also, Kollios said, she “got the travel bug,” and felt drawn to the place of her father’s heritage, Greece. She went back and forth to Greece four times from 1983 to 1987, staying for 10 weeks alone in 1983. Her work draws on time she spent soaking in the Grecian colors, light and imagery.
The image of the urn, the iconic image of Greece, is prominent in Kollios’s art, but now she paints the urns in Forest Hills Cemetery. “Mapping Forest Hills” presents a stout and stately white funeral urn drawn with bold lines, which recedes into the bright leafy vegetation around it. Compass points in the upper right and traces of words place the viewer firmly on the ground, while the colors and design of the piece point toward the sky.
“Lantern Slide Vase with Spirals” fills the page with glowing salmon pink. While it recalls the urn image, it is placed squarely in JP, with our Lantern Parade. Calligraphy integrated into the piece identifies it as “Late Minoan I”—back in Greece, with its dappled sky blue, ochers, and mossy greens.
Kollios works in oils, inks, pastels and graphite, but unlike many oil painters, her works are on paper. Canvas, she said, “never really responded to the line successfully. A nice paper absorbs the medium.”
Her sense of color also is unique for oil. She mixes up pastel-like hues of blues and golds integrated into and emerging from white space, which both defines her work and wraps it in mystery. Rubbing turpentine into soft graphite gives Kollios a “deep charcoally effect” and “blurs things and leads to happy accidents,” she said.
Deep in Kollios’s work, scenes from the Mediterranean and around Jamaica Pond are layered on multiple planes and brought together by intersecting lines of calligraphy, drawing and map-making. Some parts are recognizable and some “morph into the imagery and float into space,” she said.
Kollios’s work is on view at Friday and Sunday concerts, or by appointment, at Taylor House, 50 Burroughs St. For more information, see taylorhouse.com/musicandart.