Vian Borchert is an expressionist artist and poet. Her work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions in the US and abroad. Fine Art Shippers spoke with her about visual and written poetry, her love of architecture, the sea, and blue color.
Artist Talk: Vian Borchert and Her Visual Poetry
You refer to your art as “visual poems.” What is your definition of poetry? What is visual poetry as opposed to written verse?
Vian Borchert: It’s all interconnected, at least for me, because I also write poetry. I have been writing poetry and making art since I was a little kid, so it’s an inherent part of who I am, my personality. I think poetry is similar to abstract art in that it involves symbolism and mystery. There’s a lot of imagination involved, you can play with metaphors, allusions, and a lot of other things that language gives you. And that’s what I do in art as well. I want the viewer to use their imagination and let the subconscious run wild. In art, we use the visual “words” – colors, textures, lines, and shapes. Although it is a different medium, I see kinship. Both poetry and art seek to capture fleeting moments and the feelings those moments evoke.
Speaking of your personality. You are American, but you were born in Lebanon and lived in the Middle East as a child. How has this intersection of cultures influenced the way you perceive the world and make art?
I am also of Mediterranean descent. I grew up in a very diverse environment, with many different cultures, which I think is wonderful. In the early 1970s, Lebanon was considered the French Riviera of the Arab world, it was a fascinating place. But I was born during the Civil War and did not have the opportunity to see that beauty. The war forced my parents to flee the country and go to Jordan, where I spent my early childhood. This part of the world is so rich in history, it is full of beautiful ruins and sites that captured my imagination. Then we came to America and settled in Maryland. I have lived in the U.S. ever since, but I travel a lot and consider myself more international. I am an explorer who likes to discover things.
What is your creative process and approach to art?
I used to paint mainly with oils but then switched to acrylics, which I can make look like oil. Since I paint in my home studio, acrylic is friendlier to me and the environment. The process is pretty feverish, I would not recommend it to anyone. I am a night owl, I like to start working when everyone is asleep. I prefer it when it’s really quiet. I usually put on music I like, but sometimes I paint in complete silence. I stay up all night until I am completely exhausted physically and mentally. I usually work on a series of paintings at the same time. I like to experiment, for me it’s a journey of self-discovery.
What have you been working on lately?
The most recent series I have done is for an upcoming exhibition, “Flora and Fawna,” which will be at Lichtundfire Gallery from July 27 till August 26, 2022. I do not usually do floral work, but this was an interesting experience because I love flowers and nature in general. The paintings are imaginative floral landscapes that evoke long-forgotten stories, poetry, and nature. I did not want to depict real flowers, but rather a floral, misty landscape that captures the essence and a deeper meaning behind it. The concept for “Flora and Fawna”, as well as another exhibition that just ended, “Summer Blues”, is by Lichtundfire gallery’s curator Priska Juschka.
“Summer Blues” is a monochromatic series in blue inspired by New York architecture. I am an architect at heart, I love buildings. I have always wondered why we do not see enough architectural artwork or drawings in museums. I made these paintings specifically for the exhibition. The creation of the blue cityscapes was so rewarding in terms of the outcome and the satisfaction I felt after completing the series.
You say that blue is your favorite color. Why do you love it so much? How does it speak to you?
Blue gives me a sense of calm and serenity. I have always loved looking at the sky. Also, the Mediterranean is second nature to me because of my roots. I love the sea, its vastness, and its beauty. The salty sea breeze, the gentle waves, the seagulls – it’s all so refreshing and rejuvenating.
As an artist, you often have to ship your artwork to exhibitions or clients. What experiences have you had in this regard?
I have exhibited extensively in Washington DC, where I live, and in New York, so I usually do not have to ship far. However, professional art shipping is really important because artists do not always know how to pack and secure the work during shipping. So I would definitely recommend considering a company like Fine Art Shippers, who you can trust with your artwork and be sure that it will be delivered safely and intact.
Photo courtesy of Vian Borchert