Vian Borchert, expressionist artist from the United States. Photo © Oliver Borchert
Tell us what you do and your beginnings?
My artwork is mainly abstract, it is inspired by my environment, my journey, and my life experience along with my dreams. I describe my artwork as a form of visual poetry. I have been doing art as far as I can remember. I grew up in an artistic household where the art originated from my mother’s side of the family while my father is more inclined toward math and science, yet he greatly supports the arts. Thus, I grew up seeing art created around me and attending numerous art exhibitions and art events. Through this, art came naturally to me.
I was born with a so-called gift and natural talent for art. This artistic talent was evident to those around me from my parents to the school teachers and principals who guided me on this artistic path. For me, art was not a choice, it was something intrinsic within me. Later on, in high school, I won Scholastic awards and scholarships to attend art college. I am a graduate and “notable alumni” of the Corcoran College of Art and Design George Washington University, Washington D.C.
After graduating, I made it a point to travel. My travels led me to meet more artists who became friends, and I partook in group and solo exhibitions earlier in my career. My earlier work revolves around the figure. I am primarily a figurative artist. I would have my friends and family members pose for me while I abstracted the figure and painted it in an expressionist style aiming not to capture a likeness of the model, but to capture the emotions that occupy the mind.
My figurative abstract expressionist early works revolved around the psychology of the figure, what occupies the mind along with the twist and turn of the body, and how the figure gazes back at the viewer. The work was meant to create a dialogue between the audience and the painting allowing for a cognitive experience to occur in a thought-provoking manner. In the last couple of years though, I decided to move away from the figure and concentrate on the abstract world via the lens of seascapes, landscapes, and even dreamscapes.
Through the latest abstraction, my intent was to seek a connection to my subconscious and allow that mysterious part of the mind to come through via imaginative works that emerge onto the canvas. I wanted my ideas to blossom and bloom in an intellectual way through the abstract field.
One thing that remains clear from my earlier work till now is that the artwork is always delivered through my innovative expressionist vision and unique modern abstract aesthetics. And throughout the years, the paintings are still executed through an expressive and painterly touch with strong colors and gestural brush strokes, the signature of my style.
What does your work aim to say?
My artwork aims to say many things. The message does change and evolve through my growth and through the years. Early on, I was interested in psychology and deep silent dialogue between the viewer and the figure. However, In my new abstract work, and especially the work that is inspired by the sea and the sky, there is a celebration and love for nature and the environment while highlighting the importance of nature in one’s life. The artwork intends to be a bridge that intersects the connectivity of art and the environment emphasizing the importance of living with nature and its benefits for humans.
The paintings allude to my fascination with water presenting my love for the Big Blue. The paintings showcase a sense of identity of who I am as an artist: my hopes, aspirations, and dreams. The work also plays on the idea of the visible vs. the invisible. The calm water on the surface vs. the deep dark waters that lurk underneath the surface. The paintings are symbolic of the unpredictability of life along with its mysteries. Overall, the paintings are metaphoric of a changing time where a return to art seems to bring back much-needed peace.
As of late, the recent paintings that I presented in February 2023 at Lichtundfire gallery in NYC where I am represented, tackle the theme of perspective and perception and how philosophy, geometry, architecture, and my own experience mélange together in presenting something novel in regards to a restructured perspective. The idea of how to structure and geometric forms come together through alignment and realignment intermingle together to make a solid work of art.
The delivery of the latest work is through my minimal abstracted vision with emphasis on structure, lines, and gestural geometric shapes. The artwork aims to capture the depth of the perspective while being suggestive of the elements of the vanishing points and lines within an abstract field in such allowing for unusual viewpoints and perspectives to come through highlighting the multiplicity of infinity within space. As a person, I define my mind as a structured one with a love for structure with a multitude of shapes. Thus, naturally, these elements appear in my work, especially in the work that has architectural elements at its core. In a gist, the works go after the law of contiguity which is considered the keystone to most scientific theories of space, memory, and knowledge.
Where do you find inspiration for your art?
For me, inspiration comes from many things. Sometimes it is not necessarily a visual thing, it can spring from music. Music I find to be a great source of joy and opens up channels within the brain that ignite creative thought at least for me. Besides melodic notes of musical pieces that move me to innovate, of course, nature and the world around me have the utmost impact on what I create. I live by the woods. Hence, some of my earlier abstracts were about the woods.
These works depicted the thickness of the forest delivered in my own abstracted vision by capturing the textures along with the varying colors at different times and in different seasons. Although I am not a woodsy person, the fact that I see the woods in my everyday life has rubbed on me and propelled me to create my woods abstraction. Beyond the woods, I am very much a water person, I love the sea which is an essential source of inspiration throughout my art career.
Hence, my love for the big blue is apparent in my work. Variations of the color blue have also made appearances in my abstract work. Moreover, my love for the lavender plants that I grew during Covid paved the way for my abstracted lavender field paintings which were a great success and have been widely admired.
Another huge source of inspiration has always been “light” and its sources be it the sunlight, moonlight, or the reflective light that hits the surfaces of water and reverberates on waves and gets caught in ripples. How light travels and how it spreads along with sunrises and sunsets make appearances in my abstract work, especially those based on travels by the sea. My latest paintings are mainly cityscapes based on NYC and my travels there. The paintings are in a sense a love letter to NYC and testimonials of the city’s monumental steel structures and landmarks. Moreover, the work puts an emphasis on hope, having a positive outlook along with the idea of always looking up literally and figuratively.
Beyond that, the recent work that I presented in February 2023 at Lichtundfire gallery was inspired by the concept of infinity rather than a specific place. The idea was to bring perspective to a difficult theory that has baffled many from ancient Greek philosophers to physicists, mathematicians, and even artists. Thus, bringing a matter that very few can pinpoint and projecting it visually through my paintings via an abstract field helps in presenting these deep subject matters.
Could you give us some insight into your creative process?
My creative process is very feverish. I mainly work at night while everyone is sleeping since I cherish the silence and the stillness of the night. Also, I don’t like to be interrupted during my creative process. Consequently, nighttime is the right time for a creative person like me. I work on a series of paintings all at once circling around one main idea. Therefore, I start with one painting and move to the next, and so on. The work flows from one to another and the ideas stem and bloom the further I work. I usually don’t keep track of time when I work – I work as long as I can until I drop from absolute tiredness.
When I produce my artwork, I delve deeply into the right side of the brain where my creative energy streams from. Beyond the creative energy, I like to have all the needed supplies – I don’t like to be out of a certain color and have to stop myself in the middle. Sometimes I work in the quiet of the night, but there are other times when I listen to the music I like such as “The Cure”, “Kate Bush”, and every now and then the relaxing classical music of Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy, and Erik Satie. I also like to listen to jazz such as Miles Davis. The flow of the painting process in this way can be similar to dance from one painting to another.
What are your future projects?
I have a number of future projects, in the DC area where I reside I’ve been invited by embassies to display my artwork in cultural events during “Passport DC” week which is a time in early May when the embassies in Washington DC open their doors to the public through cultural happenings and events.
In the Summer, I return back to NYC in June for a number of art exhibits/events. In June, I will be exhibiting again with Lichtundfire gallery located in Manhattan, in an exhibit titled “Lemon Sky” with a concept by Priska Juschka.
The theme of the exhibit explores the variation of the color yellow and its rendition of lemon Summer in different hues. I am still developing my ideas for the exhibition. I work fast and I tend to work a few months before the debut of a show where I typically create new work, specially made for the exhibition and its devoted theme. Currently, my ideas are in the developing stages; yet they mainly revolve around my experience as a child taking in the sun and its light along with my childhood memories of my grandmother’s garden with lemon trees.
I remember as a child walking around the garden with my grandmother going from one tree to another and always stopping by the lemon tree (my grandmother’s favorite tree) taking in its beauty and scent. I remember my grandmother picking a fresh lemon from the tree and rubbing it so I could smell its splendid scent. Those memories and that fragrant citrus scent are still fresh in my mind. With this, I aim to bring this zesty lemon memory to the new work in an abstract and nonrepresentational form through colors, textures, and depth. On this note, I am sharing this recent poem that I wrote in reflection on the exhibit’s theme. The poem captures a childhood memory revolving around the sun and the color yellow.
It is titled “Yellow Light”:
When I was young
I looked up at the sun
until my eyes melted
The color yellow
it blinded my eyes.
The round sun
grew heavy and large
it almost took over the sky
“You’ll blind yourself
if you stare at the glistening afternoon sun”,
I ignored the advice
I was sun stricken
The warmth of that day stayed with me ever-since
That every time I close my eyes
I only can see the big bright
of a yellow light
engraved in my vision
imprinted in my memory
and since then, it has been my mission
to seek the light
of the ever-endless lightness of the sun!