So Near So Far (Exhibition Essay)

By Mia Pinjuh

Marion Borgelt’s latest exhibition is an exploration of duality and the ever-shifting power dynamics of nature and the universe. So Near, So Far encompasses opposites in tandem, drawing on humanity’s struggle to understand and define the natural world. It is an encapsulation of the artist’s oeuvre, demonstrating a continued fascination with familiar themes.

The works in this exhibition embody the conflict between man and his environment and the ongoing need to make sense of the workings of the universe. As advances in science and physics provide us with more opportunities to quantify and define our world, they simultaneously reveal the impossibility of mastering it. The seemingly immutable laws of physics shift as humans seek a better understanding of the way the universe operates. The forms in So Near, So Far echo this progression from curiosity to a more complete understanding of being.

One of the overarching concepts in So Near, So Far is the existence of cycles and repetition. The Tsukimi Series in particular serves as evidence of the artist’s ongoing fascination with lunar phases and the powerful effects of the moon on human life. These hypnotic, delicate works draw the viewer in, demanding closer examination: appearing impervious and icy on first glance, but coming to reveal their warmth and tactility as the fine details of the surface become apparent. The mosaic of eggshells has a luminous sheen that forms a contrast to the loops of the smooth timber grain, with the dual surfaces being revealed and concealed in turn.

With her customary skill in manipulating materials and mediums, Borgelt has found the ideal means of expressing abstract concepts. The full, mesmerizing effect of the cut canvas works in the Liquid Light series is only evident when the viewer moves around the work, this movement itself evoking the orbits of the planets. The fine, intricate strips are cut in such a way that with every incremental movement, the image shifts and changes.

Mutation and incessant change is at the crux of all the works in So Near, So Far. As human knowledge shifts, so does the material world, with matter constantly engaged in process of change on every scale: growth, evolution and entropy. From inception, nascent life is subject to decay and disintegration. Lunar Swell demonstrates this enduring progression with the compression and release of radiant metallic discs. It appears as a measure of a continual pulse, concurrently evoking the human heartbeat and the lunar cycle. It yokes together the unknowable universe and human life in an elegant play of shape and symmetry.

In her paintings, Borgelt investigates the power of the play of light and refraction on a large scale. The abstract, large-scale paintings appear to extend beyond the flat canvas, with the sinewy, vibrant lines forming a captivating optical illusion. The Persian Strobe Series entice and frustrate the viewer by seeming to offer a glimpse of something beyond the surface, but remaining mysterious and impermeable. Borgelt’s signature mastery of colour is again evident in So Near So Far, with the bold, striking hues of the Persian Strobe Series demanding immediate attention.

So Near, So Far encapsulates Borgelt’s oeuvre, demonstrating a continued concern with familiar themes. These works acknowledge human uncertainty and need for control in the face of a vast universe, while illustrating the artist’s technical mastery and sophistication.

Related Content

Tsukimi Series (Duck Eggshell)

I am fascinated by the nature of time and how it governs our lives and the universe we live in. In the natural world the passage of time is predominantly characterised by the existence of cycles and repetition where one phase or stage of a living, dynamic entity metamorphoses into another. I have created many …

Liquid Light

Just like the changing light from morning to nightfall of any day, the Liquid Light works change with the viewer’s movements, each one opening and closing like the pupil of an eye. Every degree of movement reveals yet another image where the game between artwork and viewer endlessly unfolds. ______________________________________________________________________________ ‘A return to the painted …


The moon has a powerful allure, brimming with beauty, legend and myth. Its constant presence reminds us of the heavenly bodies beyond our own planet, the vastness of our solar system and the timeless nature of the world we live in. As it orbits the earth, the moon seemingly changes appearance due to its position …

Strobe Series

The Strobe works are abstract large-scale paintings referencing waves of bending, twisting light whose vivid bands of colour are a contrast to the subtlety of Borgelt’s earlier work. The rich, intense hues bring a drama to Borgelt’s oeuvre while keeping true to the artist’s ever-present concern with exploration of optical effects. The foundation of this …