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HELLE TZALOPOULOU-BARNSTONE

In our time here the bulldozer wages war with nature, Tzalopoulou-Barnstone's paintings are an act of love and preservation. A woman of two continents, she is an elemental painter of earth, air, water, and fire. Her lonely Indiana fields meditate and her Greek seas brood. Their disciplined luminosity gives us a nature that glows and dreams.

Her paintings take us into her fields, inside their metaphysical structures and lines. The works have conflicting forces working in them: her more abstract paintings austerely analyze the land- and seascapes down to their basic forms, yet do so with a spontaneous flow, giving her lines the swift authority of Chinese calligraphy. Her canvases synthesize "sports of nature." Her pastels on dark paper make crops, weeds, and hills palpitate.

When she is in Greece, the nostalgia for the sea, islands, and mountains dominate. Rivers overflow the land, her waves and clouds form their own ever-changing shapes and spaces.Mt. Penteli with Cypresses There she is a Greek, imbued with the sea's uproar of energy. One sees forever through those Greek seascapes and island landscapes. The vision of Greece transitory shapes of water, a network of underwater flora, dry intoxicating air, and tortured rocks is always upheld by clarity, transparency, and light.

Amid the darkness in the water paintings, an inner light rises from the painter's transforming spirit. The electric force of her exploding waves denotes the energy and flow of life. Her recent pastel landscapes are a faithful yet fantastic mirror of the fields, lakes, snows, lotuses, hills, and skies of Indiana.

Tzalopoulou-Barnstone talks about her own work:

In the four decades that I have enjoyed the modest beauty and calm of Indiana and woods, I make them mine. I sketch outdoors and in the studio transform their inner rhythmic movements. Pastel seems to be the proper medium for the gravity and solidity of the land. These pastel paintings are meditations on our environment. Despite the ravages we inflict on our fields, seas and mountains, the successive layers of color here create an equivalent to the magic and richness one feels in front of nature. In parallel fashion I use acrylic and wax media for more fluid compositions inspired by the exuberant fugues of water and its flora, both in Indiana and in Greece. I am fascinated by the seafloor landscape (around the islands) that I transform into spiritual compositions of inner light. So my work is informed by two complementary spirits: solid and fluid, Indiana and Greece.

From critic and poet Lydia Stephanou:

Energy of the Wave"It is the energy of life that the wave possesses more than anything else," Helle replies to my observations. In its most intense moments the energy is expressed with curves suggesting the meeting of the very first light with the archetypal wave. In Helle Tzalopoulou-Barnstone's work nothing is cut off from the whole. The only element that is ostracized is darkness itself. Light, as it falls on the water becomes compressed and condensed. You might say that the old contradiction between light and darkness has been transposed. While in this particular world something is happening incessantly, like a bridging from one element to another, from one sense to another: sight - touch or "a transparency I hear." Elements of primordial nature and of human nature, before history, mysterious workings "in the depths of things." But also perhaps an opening to some future, with the exaltation of the wave in its upward motion toward light.

 From art critic Lydia Finkelstein:

All [her] pastels or acrylics on paper exude the sensuousness of a season in full, whether it is the summer light in a Greek olive grove, or an Indiana hillside ripe with autumn corn husks.
       Her gift is the ability to treat both subjects so far apart in their cultural heritage and understanding as something uniquely understood, beautiful, and to be internalized in the artist's visual memory bank.

Seagrass in SerifosBarnstone is a master colorist who can work effectively with difficult tonalities within a single color, such as green, and not get the tones muddy or mixed down to an emptiness within a composition. Her greens are grayed olives, terre vertes, intense phthalos, yellowed greens, greens shot with white or pink, to create a kind of incandescent light that seems to come off the page. You can literally see the light and feel the warmth on your skin.

 

 

  Nevada: Morning

Email Helle Tzalopoulou-Barnstone
Helle@Tzalopoulou-Barnstone.com

All images copyright Helle Tzalopoulou-Barnstone.
All rights reserved

 

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