A way to Finish Thinking
Canton Sardine, Vancouver
January 11 March 7 2020
A Way to Finish Thinking presents a new group of abstract paintings by Eli Bornowsky. Created in Brooklyn and Regina over the last year, the egg tempera paintings in this exhibition evidence a return by Bornowsky to his earliest emphasis of polychromy, geometry and optical experience. Building on these early interests, the pictures are composed using modern mathematical number series, stochastic processes, geometric tessellations and computer software. Bornowsky has said that the structures generated with these mathematical and technological means both pressurize and problematize the artistic impulse for subjective expression. Expression is suspect: better to evacuate the artwork of its significant references and observe what is pulled into the remaining vacuum.
Central to the exhibition is Bornowsky’s use of the ancient medium of egg tempera–a principal material of religious painting through the medieval and renaissance periods. The sacred aspect of this mediums history is emphasized by the artists recent practice of Russian Orthodox icon writing at the Holy Cross Monastery in upstate New York. The religious tones of this practice come into contrast with the conceptual methods and abstract appearance of the work. Here the paintings weave together elements of science, formalism, and phenomenology with spirituality, contemplation and prayer.
In addition, the exhibition includes a rarely exhibited element of Bornowsky’s practice, a modular table-top drawing installed by the artist on a flat surface in a ritualistic fashion. Previously installed in various states and at various times in the artist’s home, the drawings multiple components are installed in unique constellations for each iteration.
Eli Bornowsky is a painter, writer and curator who lives in Vancouver and Brooklyn. Frequently drawing on a wide array of influences from art, mysticism, math and science, Bornowsky has produced a significant body of work that takes a consistently studied and exploratory approach to abstract painting, with special emphasis on colour. The artist's investigations in recent years have resulted in shaped paintings, low wall reliefs and optical tessellations. He has an upcoming solo exhibition at King’s Leap in New York City.