In today’s climate of sameness, it is not often that one walks into an exhibition and has that prickle of excitement wash over them. Marion Borgelt’s recent diverse exhibition, Moonlight in my Veins, is one in which works flirt, expand, and excite through their materiality. The viewer is taken on a journey between two and three dimensional works that is technically perfect. This is an exhibition that sits in complete harmony and balance.
Borgelt’s new works are no different in their elegant shift between convex and concave forms; between intimate-scaled objects to broad optical paintings; they all adhere to Borgelt’s desire to manipulate, or challenge, the viewing experience.
In Moonlight in my Veins she plays with light and form so that the eye is taunted, as with the flicker of gold as a painting’s surgically slit canvas flips between face and verso or a sculpture’s delicate duck-egg surface takes flight as its edges curl-off the gallery wall – at once playful and lavish.
Known for their optical foundations, Borgelt’s paintings don’t have the harshness of 1960s Op Art, rather opting for the soft-focus version. Here she has pushed that in a new direction using the organic fold of a piece of fabric to blur the shift between space, colour, and light. Take the huge four-panel Liquid Light: 54 Degrees (2009) where the canvas is cut into vertical strips that are twisted to their blank verso and are delicately nailed into place. Creating an organic line that curves its way across the painting’s horizontal spread, it moves from black to luminous gold.
Selecting either a horizontal or vertical axis with a diffused rhythm of psychedelic strips in violet, lemon, neon pink, and black, these belts of colour are kinked, softened with the intensity of a neon glow. They burn and fade onto our retina. Borgelt clearly points to a tradition of 20th-century painting, and yet these works have a currency today that sits beyond mere retro design.
The third element to this exhibition is a group of sculptures – both freestanding and wall-based. These works are all about surface. Looking at two works in particular – a disc pinched at the sides so that its curves fly off the walls, scooping light into its fold – it draws the viewer into its private zone. Lunar Warp: No.9 (2009) is a delicate surface made from shards of duck-egg shells with their subtle blues, grays, and whites, polished to a marble like sheen. Lunar Warp: No.7 (2009), in contrast, has the patina of gold leaf, its richness offset by the black of its verso. This series, while taking its title from a lunar fascination and luminosity, equally subscribes to Eastern spirituality and Zen purity.
Moonlight in my Veins is an incredibly cohesive exhibition and while a severed canvas, a duck-egg sculpture, and an acidic zip painting may logically be polar opposites, Borgelt connects these with her maturity and understanding of form and light that is the richest possible.