Interview with Artist Eli Bornowsky


Just a few years out of art school, Eli Bornowsky has been included in shows at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver and the Vancouver Art Gallery, and has had two solo shows in Vancouver’s delightful Blanket Gallery. I recently met up with him at his studio to check out more of his work.

What lead to the recurrent pattern of circles you've been using in your recent work?
I recognized my affinity with Islamic geometric design. Studying these patterns helped me to further abstract my work—a very difficult task. The circles just happened to work. Of course they didn't happen overnight. You work at these things. I was looking for a structure where I could experiment with weak gestalt relationships, where the perceptual strategy of the viewer would become embroiled with a composition that was always in flux.

Your work involves a lot of color theory. How much of it is science, and how much is intuitive?
It is hard to imagine inspiration without intuition. If we wait patiently, we may become inspired. Today, the neuroscientists and geneticists want to replace our subjectivities with scientific facts, wrongly attempting to end the mystery of being a human. When we experience color, for example, the sensation cannot be summated by articulations of wavelengths. In fact, formalist lingo is not very useful either. The difference between yellow and orange is absolutely remarkable. Science cannot verify the experience of art, or the merit of the subjective exercise of looking at pictures. However, for me art is important, even necessary, for the experience of reality.


Whose work is really exciting you right now?
I recently curated an exhibition called Making Real at the Or Gallery (Vancouver, 2008). It included two of my close peers, Mat Bushell and Monique Mouton who's work I am very excited about, along with Richard Tuttle and Guido Molinari, two very different artists who would be something like my masters. Richard's work has been deeply impressive; his achievement is of the most difficult kind. I'm also planning to fly to Montreal to see the Claude Tousignant retrospective and I couldn't forget to mention Brice Marden's large but quiet abstractions.