Vian Shamounki Borchert is an established award-winning contemporary expressionist artist, who has exhibited in many group and solo international exhibitions. Her abstract paintings immerse the observer in harmonious atmospheres of light and color that are recognized as familiar because they derive from a sensitive observation and identification with the natural landscape, which induce a mode of contemplation similar to meditation. In these visions the imprint of the real dissolves into a sensation and an essence, which makes the moment coincide with the infinite. To better understand the artist’s evocative poetics, we asked her a few questions.
Andrea Guerrer: In your statement you define yourself an expressionist artist and you say that you consider all your paintings to be visual poems. Would you deepen these concepts and the link between expressionism and poetry?
Vian Borchert: True, I consider all my art as a form of visual poetry. It is through creating artwork that I present my lyrical vision to the world. The fact that the work is an expressionist one which ultimately evokes emotions be it rejuvenation, melancholy or joy, is what transforms the work into a visual poem. Consequently, I have found that my art similar to my written poems have helped awaken the visual senses and imagination of the viewers. Hence, the visual dialogue that occurs between the art presented and the viewers has been very intriguing for me to see throughout the years. Ultimately both poetry and expressionist art are forms of self expression. It could be one word that switches the whole mood of the poem, or one color or brush stroke that transforms the painting into another stage altogether be it a peaceful or melancholic one. I have found that it is through these two art forms: abstract expressionist art and poetry that the height of my artistic self is presented.
Your last name reveals a Jordanian origin, but you completed your education at Corcoran College of Art and Design George Washington University and you currently live in the United States. What suggestions of these two different cultures meet in your painting?
I grew up in Amman, Jordan and I am both American and Jordanian. Yet, I was born in Beirut, Lebanon. At the time of my birth, Beirut was stricken by the civil war and my parents had to flee to nearby Amman, Jordan for a better and peaceful life especially for a young family. So, in Amman, I attended school up till high school and that’s when my parents moved us to the United States to the Washington DC area. I finished my high school in Maryland, and attended college, Corcoran College of Art and Design George Washington University in Washington, DC. I’ve been living in the DC/DMV area for decades now. I believe my identity as an artist and as a person are made of my past, my culture, heritage and all the experiences I’ve been through in my life’s journey thus far. I do consider myself to be an international person interested and open to many cultures and ways of lifestyle. I do believe originating from a Mediterranean origin really comes through in my artwork due to my utter fascination with The Big Blue. You see, I was born at the American University Hospital in Beirut. The AUB campus completely overlooks the Mediterranean sea. Therefore, I like to say I was born just a few feet away from the sea. The AUB campus is one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever been to with historic stone Mediterranean style academic buildings, situated high up on a hill overlooking gardens with Cypress trees that lead your eyes to the sea. I always thought the look is very Italian and can easily be somewhere in the Italian or the French Riviera.
Hence, I am and so is my art the totality of my journey from my birth till this day. My artwork is a sort of a mirror that reflects all these journeys, adventures along with the ups and downs that life throws one’s way. In regards to Amman, Jordan where I had my formative school years from childhood to adolescence, lots of great memories come to mind from my life there. What I especially like about Amman is the abundant amount of ruins such as the ancient Roman antiquities’ sites from amphitheaters to citadels and ancient cities still in pristine condition as if you are experiencing life all over again during the Roman Empire times – Definitely a great place for archaeology lovers such as myself.
Your abstract expressive language derives from your deep spiritual connection with nature and your paintings could be defined as “landscapes of the soul”. Would you like to tell us more about this topic?
I love your description and definition of my paintings as “landscapes of the soul”. For me nature is the mother of all: the mother of all understanding, the mother of all giving, the mother of all transforming. Nature is the place for me: to retreat to, to meditate, to refresh myself, to ponder, to reflect, to think and to relax. The joys of what nature bestows upon me could be attained by pure simple matters such as attending to my garden and being taken by the beauty of the blooming buds. To illustrate, seeing my plants multiply and bloom into flowers gives my soul so much pleasure, and even seeing the bees gather around my lavender plants makes me feel connected along with giving back to the earth. For me the cycle of life is so apparent in nature. It is from the earth we spring, and back to the earth we return. We are very much part of nature and nature is very much part of us. I feel this connection deeply when I dig up the soil to plant herbs and flowers, the smell that the earth emits is one that is so pleasing to my senses and reiterates my thoughts about the connectivity to the earth.
How do the intimate and personal aspects of your emotions and the universal and eternal feeling of nature blend in your paintings?
They all blend together since they all come from one source which is me the person. I believe my paintings are reflecting the totality of who I am: as a nature lover, as a multifaceted artist, as a naturalist, as an adventurer, as a poet, as a thinker. It is through the process of creating that the subconscious comes alive and comes through to the artwork. I feel every painting is like a glimpse into the subconscious and what it holds. For me that is also one of the main reasons to paint is to discover that hidden cognitive part of who I am and allowing it to come alive through the arts. As a result, the paintings become a mélange of the unknown and known along with the emotions and feelings towards the environment and nature mixed together all in one.
Are there other artists in the contemporary art scene that you esteem and that you consider akin to your poetics?
Yes, there are so many artists I admire and esteem and consider their work to be poetic and full of meaning. Here are some of my favorite artists and my favorite artwork from these artists: Anselm Kiefer’s landscapes in watercolour such as “The Evenings of All Days, The Day of All Evenings” (Aller Tage Abend, aller Abende Tag). I like pretty much everything done by Kiefer. I simply gravitate towards his work. I love the somber colors and textures he presents in his work. Richard Diebenkorn “Ocean Park ” paintings’ series. I like these Diebenkorn paintings since they remind me of California streets and overlook the ocean through a very modern, abstract geometric take which is pleasing to my senses. “Spider” sculpture by Louise Bourgeois – The darkness and mysterious element of Bourgeois’s work appeal to me. For me Bourgeois tells a story through each sculpture she presented. The Spiders I feel overtake us with their size, color and material. They are immensely strong but fragile at the same time. “Orange and Black Wall” by Franz Kline – The energy that Kline presents in most of his work is endlessly beautiful and bold. His works imbue strength and confidence like no other.
You have shown your paintings in prestigious places such as the United Nations General Assembly’s Public Lobby Gallery, NYC, “Art Basel Miami Beach” Spectrum Miami, 1stdibs Design Center in Chelsea, NYC and the LA Art Show, as well as being involved in exhibitions in major world cities such as NYC, LA, DC, London, Rome, and Berlin. What are your plans for the future?
For the Fall, I will be teaching online fine art classes for adults and students for all levels in painting and in drawing in the Washington DC area. For my classes visit: www.vianborchert.com/classes. I just juried an art exhibition and gave awards to the winning artwork. For the Winter, I will again exhibit in NYC at Lichtundfire where I am represented. I am currently working on the artwork that I will present there, it will be a mix of my painterly abstract vision combined with my love for architecture and construction. The work that I aim to have in the upcoming Winter exhibition will embody the rhythm and beat of the city along with an ode to NYC as architectural wonder.
I am currently showing with the London based FLUX Exhibition in a virtual exhibition that will be on view till mid September. For a list of my current and upcoming exhibitions visit: www.vianborchert.com
Vian Borchert by her artwork titled “Floating Water Chair”. Photo Credit: Oliver Borchert, courtesy the artist
Vian Borchert, “Misty Waves”, acrylic on canvas, 2020, 61 x 91 cm, ph courtesy the artist
Vian Borchert, “Spectrum”, acrylic on canvas, 2020, 60 x 60 cm, ph courtesy the artist
Vian Borchert, “Distant Lavender Fields”, acrylic on canvas, 2021, 76 x 38 cm, ph courtesy the artist
Vian Borchert, “Imagine Lavender Fields”, acrylic on canvas, 2021, 76 x 38 cm, ph courtesy the artist
Vian Borchert, “Lavender Shadows”, acrylic on canvas, 2021, 76 x 38 cm, ph courtesy the artist
Actor and performer, he loves visual arts in all their manifestations.