New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias
Colors represent “feelings and emotions” in Greek culture, said Consul General Konstantinos Koutras at the Greek Consulate in New York on Thursday, October 31 opening the exhibition of “A Retrospective of Creative Works” by Argie Moutafis-Agelarakis. And Agelarakis’ paintings represent positive ones, he continued, saying that he loves most the blue she uses: “the colors of Greece… the sea, the sky and our Greek flag.” On that rain-drenched evening with high-winds, that also happened to be Halloween, sunny Greece was the place to be, nonetheless attendance at the show was high.
The 24 oil paintings and mixed media works in the show represent work from the several series Agelarakis has created over the past 25 years.
The artist has donated many of her works to nonprofit organizations for fundraising purposes to help benefit various causes and educational programs. Her most recent donation is a painting from her Ichthys Collection, donated to the Museum of Art and Design for their fundraising event, the MAD Ball.
Two more of her series have involved fundraising efforts: The Callas Series (2018-2019) brought awareness to the Maria Callas Society in Athens for the establishment of a museum for the opera legend. A painting from The Alexander the Great Collection (2016-2017) was part of a group show entitled, “In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great” in Athens and Uzbekistan (2017).
Other paintings in the show are representative of the artist’s Monoprint and Mixed Media Series (mid-1990’s) which reflects the turmoil and havoc of the Bosnian War, through colors, gestures, and the scale of the works, while the Classical Elements series of abstract larger works is reflective of the elements as per ancient Greek philosophy: Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Aether. And a series of watercolors (summers of 2018 and 2019) painted en plein air, on the beach. All of these series have been exhibited widely in solo shows and group shows.
The other phase of Argie Agelarakis work is her 35-yearlong involvement in archaeology. The artist takes some questions from the GN about this different, but related talent.
GN: Do the two parts of your career derive from the same source?
AA: My paintings, abstract or surreal, are influenced by my technical illustrations, yet break free from them, finding beauty in the purest forms in our natural environment, aiming to convey a rhythm or harmony of color, form, and composition.
GN: What do you do on archaeological sites?
AA: My work takes place at the site, in the lab, museum, and studio. Although I myself no longer work at actual archaeological sites, I teach Technical Drawing in the summer at the site of Eleutherna in Rethymno… how to draw plan maps, soil profiles, and features. I specialized in drawing artifacts, which includea burial goods, pottery, jewelry and stone tools.
GN: How are these used?
AA: My illustrations have been published in journals and textbooks.
GN: How did you begin this archaeological work?
AA: My work began at a Byzantine site in Abdera Greece in 1983. Since then, I have worked at excavations for the Greek Archaeological Service in Kavala, Thassos, Naxos, Abdera, on the coast of Thrace, Chios, Crete, Rhodes, and Athens, as well as in NY, Puerto Rico, and with materials from Iraq, Lebanon, and South America.
GN: What do you work with most?
AA: I work a lot with human skeletal remains–in burials–from many time periods.
GN: What are you working on now?
AA: I was recently granted the opportunity to work on two major archaeological projects in Crete: Neolithic Aposelemis, 6th millennium BC, the only formal Neolithic burial ground in Crete, and the Cult Center of the Knossos Palatial site, which dates to 1900 BC.
GN: What will this upcoming project involve?
AA: I will be illustrating burial offerings, which should take about two years to complete. I will be working with the actual artifacts at the museum in Crete and will continue with photographic reference when I’m back in New York.
GN: Do the two phases of your career merge?
AA: My abstract paintings and my surreal paintings are influenced by my technical illustrations yet break free from them, finding beauty in the purest forms in our natural environment and aiming to convey a rhythm or harmony of color, form, and composition.
A Greek American, Argie Agelarakis earned her BFA at The School of Visual Arts in New York City and her MA at Adelphi University, on Long island. She is a part-time faculty member at both universities. Drawing from her experience as a published illustrator in archaeology, anthropology, and art, she teaches courses in scientific illustration, food-culture-and art, ethnobotany, and the relationship of art and science. She lives in New York City and Rethymnon, Crete.