Event DetailsSeptember 30, 2021 – October 24, 2021
The Artists House, Tel Aviv9 Elharizi St.
Suly Bornstein Wolff: Soft Vitrage
Curators: Vera Pilpoul, Arie Berkowitz
Suly Bornstein Wolff’s work oscillates between ornamentation and structure, objects and painting, wall reliefs and collages. In a free and educated manner, she combines various everyday materials, including glass, ceramics, and canvas into an organic whole. After a long period in which she created paintings depicting nature, trees, and urban Bauhaus buildings, her current solo exhibition ‘Soft Vitrage’, indicates a process of moving forward and reusing her own imagery to tell a new story.
Bornstein Wolff’s artistic pendulum moves back and forth on this axis, seeking to connect its poles. She creates both paintings and objects, drawing her motifs and inspiration from nature: textures and shapes of trees, flowers, and plants, alongside forms simulating waves, circles, geometric shapes, and lush curves. Her works are highly stratified. Layer after layer of form and color produce a sense of visible and concealed, physical and metaphysical, matter and spirit. A closer look at Bornstein Wolff’s artistic endeavors reveals her idiosyncratic approach to aesthetic precision. The three-dimensional works surrender an extensive engagement with recycling and reuse. While recycling is often perceived as a functional act devoid of glamor, Bornstein Wolff knows how to turn waste materials into works of art imbued with beauty and cultural values. Her work elevates the act of recycling through laborious practice and a carefully designed, rich, colorful syntax, uniting organic motifs and wiggly contours into a work of art and craft, infused with a social-consumerist ideology.
Bornstein Wolff creates sculptural objects in the spirit of Art Nouveau, alongside functional sculptures. Art Nouveau’s quintessential decorative feature is the wavy asymmetrical line, often in the form of flower stalks and buds, tendrils, insect wings, and other delicate, sinuous natural features.
She uses glass fixtures, such as lampshades, bottles, bowls, Murano and Bohemian glass, crystal, as well as porcelain jugs she collects (some handmade in the 20th century, others mass-produced and industrial). The combination of glass fixtures from different centuries, made in diverse techniques, transforms a purposeful, functional material and image into a sculptural object, while blending old and new, the functional and the decorative, manual labor and mass production. The compositions are phenomenal, as is the handiwork; a mesmerizing encounter between art and craft; between a deep emotional need to create an expressive artistic message, and a utilitarian everyday product.
The exhibition showcases a new series of works entitled Soft Vitrage, round pieces of meticulous collage, consisting of hundreds of cutouts in the shape of small leaves; these are, in fact, oil paintings on canvas made by the artist, which she decided to cut up and recycle to form a new work. By recycling the unwanted paintings she is giving the canvas a new life and herself as an artist a second chance to perfect her vision. This series is a tribute to Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities which challenges the human imagination through descriptions of spectacular fantastic cities, their formation and development, recounted by explorer Marco Polo to the Chinese emperor, Kublai Khan. Bornstein Wolff creates dense, overflowing colorful jigsaw puzzles that give rise to works whose shape is reminiscent of rosettes—those large round windows in cathedrals, customary since the Gothic era that are made with the stained glass technique, which spawns the shape of a rose.
One of the large-scale works in the exhibition is a vitrage, 1.3 m’ diameter, made entirely of glass fragments that the artist collected on the beach during her daily walks. Akin to a free interpretation of the concept of vitrage, it consists primarily of green glass fragments alongside transparent or brown sherds. Together they create an irregular pattern, calling to mind the spirit of the Memphis group, which operated in the 1980s. Like the Italian group, which sought to reinstate design with the artistic facet, with emotion, aesthetics, and beauty, Bornstein Wolff connects different worlds, orchestrating encounters between high and low, luxury and waste, giving viewers a sense of transcendence.