VIAN SHAMOUNKI BORCHERT: THE POETRY OF MELANCHOLY
By Juliette Lord Much of the expressionist art of DC-based artist Vian Shamounki Borchert focuses on the human subject, drawing the viewer into an emotional dialogue with the painting. There is something about her work that
By Juliette Lord
Much of the expressionist art of DC-based artist Vian Shamounki Borchert focuses on the human subject, drawing the viewer into an emotional dialogue with the painting. There is something about her work that leads to an internal speculation about the life of the person on the canvas. Some of her subjects are famous celebrities, often musicians such as Hendrix, Lennon, Bowie and Prince, but others are anonymous with cryptic titles such as ‘The Ideal Nose’, ‘Modern Woman’ and ‘Late’.
Working in both acrylics and watercolor, it is her ability to capture an almost eerie sense of what lies beneath the surface that makes her paintings so enthralling. Her aim is not to produce a precise replica of the individual she is painting but rather her focus is on the eyes of the subject and the ‘feel’ and ‘mood’, evoking an emotional response.
She tells me that: “In general most of the work is based on the figure primarily from a model or a friend or a family member, yet I allow my imagination to finish off the painting. So, in a way I like to say that I aim to capture the soul rather than make a super realistic resemblance or a copy of that specific person.”
Borchert’s portraits of the famous are composed of those artists who have had a personal impact on her. She explains the inspiration behind her painting of Hendrix (that she incidentally completed in 45 minutes as part of a demonstration at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn.)
“I love the way he looks and his style and voice. I’ve always loved his deep yet clear voice and his song choices, and of course his great skill in playing the guitar, but the song that comes always to mind when I think of him is “The Wind cries Mary”, where I think of it more as a poem than a song.”
The affinity to poetry crops up a lot. Borchert regularly writes poetry her personal journals, but she tells me that: “I feel that my paintings are like my visual poems that I present out to the world. They are like poems of love, poems of melancholy, poems of hope, poems of courage…”
She has an ongoing range of watercolor artworks that she began back in 2013 that she names her “Pin up style” including “Woman with Purple Wig” and “Pink”. She has her own modern twist on the pin up and she says that she wanted to focus on female portraits that are a bit “fanciful, mysterious, seductive and intriguing”.
One of my personal favorite paintings is “The Ideal Nose” an acrylic on canvas. Borchert tells me that she gave the painting this title to empower people and especially women to embrace their natural beauty, and to revel in who they are, allowing their inner beauty to shine through. Its charm is evidently not lost on the artist herself. She says:
“I think most people who see this painting fall in love with it. I feel that there is a certain magnetic mystery to her beauty. I did this painting many years ago around the time when I was working at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C and I actually had it on display in an area for the National Gallery of Art Staff where a lot of staff members / employees saw it and wanted to purchase it. Yet, I felt that it was a painting that I have to hold onto, and keep in my private collection.”
Borchert comes from a long line of artists on her mother’s side of the family and she tells me that, as a result, art comes naturally to her. She has enjoyed drawing and painting since childhood and relishes playing and experimenting with colors, lines and brush strokes. She was born in Beirut but civil war has forced her family to move first to Amman in Jordan and subsequently to the United States.
Recently she has been inspired by local landscapes in the DC area, focusing on the changes created by the fluctuating seasons.
But not only is Borchert a prolific painter currently making a painting a day, but she also manages to find time to teach art. She currently teaches Adult Art classes in two locations; at the Yellow Barn Studio in Glen Echo Park, MD and at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, MD. The experience of teaching does have an effect on Borchert’s own art. She says that:
“The educator in me makes me look at my work from a technical point of view as a composition when it comes to colors, shapes, lines and how all can work together in creating an effective painting.”
You can catch some of Borchert’s work this summer at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn Gallery in the Arts Barn Faculty exhibition from 1 July 1 to 28 August. The theme of the exhibit is “Americana” where she will be exhibiting portrait artwork of notable and iconic American figures such as Elvis Presley along with her latest landscape paintings of Washington DC memorials such as “Thomas Jefferson Memorial in the spring time surrounded by Cherry Blossom trees”.
Borchert’s work will be exhibited at The Monroe Trust Artist Collective Art Gallery 1515 14th Street Northwest Suite 200 from 4 September to 8 October.
She will also be exhibiting some of her work later this year at “Art Basel Miami Beach” at the “Spectrum Miami Art Show” (via and presented by the ‘Miami Art Scene’) from 30 November until 4 December.
For more about the artist visit: www.vianborchert.com
Facebook: Vian Borchert Fine Arts