Walking, Square, Cylinder, Plane features a new body of paintings that have come out of Eli Bornowsky’s dedicated studio practice in the past six months. Compared to his previous works, a turn can be seen in the artist’s output. The newer works have expanded in size and visual vocabulary. Previously, Bornowsky’s canvases assumed a relatively polite size and played on the repetition of similar geometric motifs, most notably the circle, with slight and energetic variations in size, texture and colouring. What connects his older and newer work is an obvious concern with the optical movement that each image is able to create in the eyes of its viewer.
These paintings by Bornowsky have grown not only in noticeable size, but also in terms of their demanding presence. The larger paintings ask for a lot of attention, as a play between several visual vocabularies takes place. Drawing from his early education as an illustrator, a field of black and white scribbled abstraction is a constant visual ground in each work in the exhibition. Noticeably in each painting, a confidently coloured stripe, approximately one quarter of the width of the canvas, vertically stretches across either the left or right hand side or horizontally along the bottom field. A third and more varied motif of a figure rests between or on top of these compositions. A cartoon like purple foot, an irregular and textured shape or a small box containing its own miniature landscape, are just some of the figures that seem to offer concrete positioning for the eye. Each large canvas is crowned with an accompanying smaller canvas, which is positioned in no repeatable method, except to say that they rest above. These smaller canvases recall Bornowsky’s older works, both in size and content, but they further obfuscate the visual conversation that happens throughout each painting. The companion canvases introduce a sensation of both belonging and foreignness. They are a curious and constant reminder for you to go back, look again and once more negotiate the multiple grounds and fields that each work contains.
The Contemporary Art Gallery and the Western Front present two new videos featuring dialogues between Eli Bornowsky and Elizabeth McIntosh. The videos were produced in conjunction with McIntosh’s solo show Violet’s Hair, at the CAG from November 19, 2010 – January 9, 2011 and Bornowsky’s exhibition Walking, Square, Cylinder, Plane, at the Western Front from November 26, 2010 – Jan 22, 2011. McIntosh and Bornowsky are both Vancouver-based painters whose work fits primarily into the realm of geometric abstraction. The discussions navigate the artists’ personal relationships to their work and their viewers, as well as their artistic processes. The interviews, which is set against the backdrop of the artists’ exhibitions, reveals new and unexpected layers of meaning within specific paintings.
Eli Bornowsky is from Alberta and now lives and works in Vancouver. Recent exhibitions include Great Drinker and Chandelier, Lobby Gallery, the group exhibitions Homemade Polygons, Bjornson Kajiwara Gallery, Vancouver and Gasoline Rainbows, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouer. His critical texts have appeared in Fillip Review, C Magazine and Pyramid Power. The label Rundownsun has released a limited edition cassette of his audio projects. Bornowsky holds a BFA in Visual Arts from the Emily Carr Institute (2005). Residencies include, the Banff Centre thematic residency Why are Conceptual Artists Painting Again? (2009), under the direction of Jan Verwoert and the Print Research Residency (2009) at Malaspina Printmarkers Society. He is represented by Blanket Gallery, Vancouver and was a shortlisted nominee for the 2010 RBC Canadian Painting Competition.