Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Flora Borsi

Elvis, Time Travel, Flora Borsi

The first I saw of Flora Borsi's work was a series of photographs of 20th century icons like Elvis, Warhol and the Beatles which Flora had photoshopped herself into.  They were fun, they were funny, they were clever without being groundbreaking.  I've done it myself.  Not so well, but I've done it.  Ok, nowhere near so well, but I understand the principle, if I was a bit more patient . . .

Woman with Green Hat, Picasso, Real Life Model, Flora Borsi

Then I saw another series of pictures: The Real Life Models.  These posited the idea that Modigliani and Picasso painted people who actually looked like that.  One picture in particular stopped me in my tracks.  The Corn Poppy by Kees van Dongen re-imagined by Flora Borsi.

The Corn Poppy, Kees van Dongen, Real Life Model, Flora Borsi

I don't know what it is about the picture.  The starting point is van Dongen's portrait.  This in itself is a wonderful painting.  It is thoroughly modern (in a 1919 sort of way), thoroughly ancient (I can imagine it as a cave painting), totally timeless: it sparkles.  And then Flora superimposes herself upon it. Gilding the lily. The cherry on top.

The Time Travel series was a funny, punny commentary on modern media and the nature of instafame but The Real Life Models took things a stage further.  Putting herself in the picture, Flora Borsi claims this art for herself, she's not the onlooker, the voyeur from Time Travel, she is the subject.  But in disguise.

For me, The Corn Poppy suddenly made art interesting again.  So much so that I started a blog, called it TheCornPoppy and began my search to find an answer to a question which I haven't quite formed yet (the question, not the answer).  Something about when is art art and when is it not art. Or what is original thinking in art. Is it ever worth taking a photo (or painting a picture) of something that someone else has already taken a photograph of (or painted).  I even started painting pictures.  I even painted The Corn Poppy, multiple times.

Smudge tool, Photoshop in Real Life, Flora Borsi

Flora Borsi, born in 1993 in Budapest, was still a teenager when many/most of these images were created.   These earlier works are about identity but they're also very much about the process.  We know it is about clever photo manipulation.  We're in on the joke when we see the Real Photoshop series.

Identity, Flora Borsi

Watching each successive series of works shows her development.    Each new series of images shows a growing maturity, a development.  It has stopped being about the technique.  The images are more abstract, more fluid, more fluent, more eloquent. And although Flora is often the subject matter her identity is hidden or disguised.  She's got her johari window open (but the curtains are drawn). Look at these.

Recent Artwork II, Flora Borsi

Recent Artwork 1, Flora Borsi

Des Monstres, Flora Borsi

Did I mention the Beatles?  One of the astonishing things about the Beatles 1963 to 1967 is the incredible journey they made in a very short space of time, from Love Me Do to A Day in the Life, for example.  When, in 1962, Lennon & Macca sat down in the McCartney's front parlour with a couple of guitars and a piano and wrote I Saw Her Standing There they were trying to emulate their heroes, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Elvis.  And why shouldn't they be able to?  Berry, Holly and Presley were barely out of their teens themselves, kids from from St Louis, Lubbock and Tupelo.  By Revolver and Rubber Soul they weren't trying to be anyone other than John, Paul, George and Ringo.  

Time Travel is Flora Borsi's I Saw Her Standing There.  It's a statement, a first assault. Since then she has rattled off a couple of solid albums.  But I think now is where the fun begins.  Flora is moving at a rate of knots towards something that is genuinely new, exciting and, yay, groundbreaking.

iReel, Flora Borsi

Coffee Universe

The Coffee Universe images are striking but reminded me of a 1970s album cover (Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Centre of the Earth where, if you look closely you will notice that the ocean is actually beer).

Flora Borsi will be in London this week for a gallery show at Leontia Gallery (Thursday 18th September 6-8pm).  You should go.  See what the fuss is going to be all about.

All of these images are copyright Flora Borsi.  Most have been borrowed from www.floraborsi.comI hope she doesn't mind me using them.  I'll put them back when we've finished.  

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