Monday, March 2, 2009

Local Gallery Artist with International Credentials

As a writer for many decades, I am always pleased to happen on an apt word or phrase. As a late-blooming artist, I appreciate work that is innovative, beautifully done and draws one in to its very core. I found this combination our own Barbara Kolo, a very active Topanga Canyon Gallery artist of considerable talent and\ impressive credentials – as will be apparent when her solo show opens March 9 at the gallery.

The term she uses to describe her paintings, Neo-Pontillism, is spot on (though after eight years of neo-cons in Washington, I thought I’d never want to see the “neo” prefix again). Since pontillism was also called "post impressionism," she could call her work "post-post-impressionism," but that does not trip lightly from the tongue. Barbara’s paintings are a 21st century version of the genre Georges Seurat pioneered in the 1800s. But she updated more than the name of the style; she also gave the technique she uses a 21st century twist.

She replaces the brushes and oils that Seurat, Paul Signac, Henri-Edmond Cross and other early pontillists used with squeeze bottles filled with modern acrylic paints. “The squeeze bottles enable me to make long drips of paint that set up the structure of each painting as well as the pointillist "dots,” Barbara explains. So, new name, new technique, new tools, new medium; definitely 21st century!

Barbara refuses to call what she does revolutionary. “I feel that I've taken different elements from different eras in art and mixed them together. The result is different, but not revolutionary,” she says.

Ok, point taken, but her work and how she creates it has certainly evolved from the early pontillists. Her paintings are much more abstract than, say, Seurat’s "Bathing at Asnières" or Signac’s “Port St. Tropez.” Contrast them with Barbara/s “Myth” or “Mirage,” one of two Kolo pieces currently on display at a show in LAX Terminal 1, "In the Abstract", sponsored by the Angeles Cultural Affairs Department. She was also selected for the 2007 annual TCG Juried Open exhibit by Laddie John Dill, show judge and internationally known sculptor/artist.


And these are just the latest in a long list of Barbara’s impressive solo and group credits, which include exhibits in Paris, New York and all over Southern California. Here are just a few samples:  2008 Brand Library Art Galleries, "Circle in the Square" Glendale, CA; 2007 Kanvas, “Paintings of Color and Light”-NYC; 2003 Off Rose Gallery, “ColorRhythms”-Venice, CA; 2002 Pluralism, “Dessins & Peintures”-Paris, France; 2001 WICE, “Before and Paris”-Paris, France; 1999; Knickerbocker Gallery, “Flora: Inspiration, Subject, Metaphor”-NYC 1999 Brand Library Art Galleries, “The Black & White Series”-Glendale, CA; 1996 Antioch University Los Angeles, “Recent Work”, Marina Del Rey, CA; 1993 School of Visual Arts, “Pastel Paintings”, NYC. 

Having developed an appreciation for art from an early age, her interest in drawing and painting led her to attend the High School of Art and Design, followed by The School of Visual Arts, receiving her BFA in 1981.

During the 1980's she built a career as an award-winning art director in creative advertising for films and television. It was this career that bought her to Los Angeles in 1989. As an independent freelance art director, she worked with major film and design studios specializing in film advertising. In 1991, she became Director of Print Advertising at Universal Studios. 

Barbara's early interest in drawing and painting never diminished throughout this period. During the early '90's, she began to develop her own personal artistic voice, and also joined Los Angeles based artists organizations such as SITE (Seeking It Through Exhibition) to become more involved in the art community.

Her drawings were soon being included in local group shows and national juried shows. In 1992 the School of Visual Arts, in a very special gesture, gave her a solo show, a rare occurrence for an alumna of eleven years. Over the next few years, Barbara's drawings were accepted in more group shows and commissions and sales followed.

Slowly, this second career as a fine artist became her main focus. She welcomed a chance to work, exhibit, and live in Paris, France for two years in 2001.

Barbara's work was included in an exhibit at the American Chamber of Commerce, "La Genie de la Bastille" (a Parisian event similar to the Venice Art Walk) both in Paris. Outside of Paris, her work was also included in an exhibit with Voeux D'Artists at the Palais des Arts in Marseilles and a group exhibit in Descartes, France. When asked about the future of her career as an artist Barbara said, "I want to focus on developing my artwork to a higher level artistically, expanding it conceptually and reaching a wider audience."

You can see samples online here on the TCG website and on her own site.

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