The Haunting World of Colini

by Malcolm Preston (Art critic for NEWSDAY, New York)

Colini marches to the beat of a different drummer.  His images are from another time, another place.  His is a magical world, it's landscape strange and haunting.  The inhabitants of this never, never land are given to wearing odd uniforms, even armor.  Sometimes they stand, silent and impassive.  Sometimes they engage in unusual and puzzling tasks.  Often they carry banners and pennants, even long spears.  Some play instruments, some juggle, some pray.  Always they are enigmatic.

There is a medieval look to Colini's work.  The surfaces are smooth and the polish of the glazes lends a jewel-like glow to the panels.  Forms are precisely drawn and very carefully rendered.  While the scale is small, intimate, there is a sense of the infinite in the deeply placed, distant horizons.  From the sharp, all pervading light of his foregrounds, Colini moves our eye gently to the wonderfully glowing haze of the deeply set background landscapes.

Yet the iconography, the meaning, of these carefully executed paintings remains obscure.  Do they speak of a myth, a legend, some arcane rite long since passed into oblivion?  We cannot tell.  And that is the compelling aspect of these pictures.  For it is the enigmatic quality which requires us to supply the meaning; to make explicit for ourselves that which is implicit in the work.

The centuries that separate Bosch from de Chirico disappear in Colini's oeuvre.  The unnatural merges with the natural to become the supernatural.  Weird beasts and birds take part in aberrant behavior, the figure of a half-man, half-horse serenades an exotic, nude female dancer.  There are bishops and Cardinals, cats and lizards, lush flowers and stone walls and arches, all revealed to us with astonishing clarity.

Still we are left with questions.  Is the world of Colini a garden of earthly delights, or a nether world of perdition?  Are the distant cities a place of heavenly peace, far removed from the seductions of the erotic nudes and the militancy of the soldiers?  Or, are these panels illustrations of long forgotten tales?  Whatever is the case, and each of us must decide for ourselves, Colini's work provides us with a delight for both our eye and our mind.

Some Past Exhibitions of Colini's Work

Reflections Out of Time

50-year Retrospective of Colini's Work Held
in New York City

Back to the Colini Home Page.


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Last Modified: Friday, December 18, 2020