Enlightenment intellectual Denis Diderot once stated of his countryman, the painter Chardin: "...come closer and everything becomes flat, confused, and indistinct; stand back again and everything springs back into life and shape." As we approach the large canvases of Phil Bornarth, we see the image before us dissolve into swathes of absolute color applied with knife or broad brush. As we recede, we watch planes begin to assert themselves in space, perspective begin to emerge, and an image begin to form. Space, mass and light in Bornarths paintings are all the products of carefully contrived color harmonies. In his large canvas, Silver Thread Falls, the gradual intensification of color within a limited spectral range creates an almost dizzying feeling of height and precipitous decline. Similarly, in Whiteface Mountain from Lake Placid, we do not see the sunlight on the slope as much as we feel its presence in the dance and vibration of the panels of opaque color laid closely together.
is as much as to say that in Bornarths landscapes, whether
in oil or watercolor, the image is never "drawn." Rather,
the application of paint takes on the characteristics of the object
depicted. It lays on the surface in solid immobility, as rocks
in a watercourse; it flows freely from the brush, now rushing,
now meandering; or it plummets downward in aggressive vertical
strokes. The movement of the artists brush does not so much
depict the movement of the water, as it embodies its energy. Even
where the underdrawing is visible in his watercolors, it does not
articulate form, but contributes instead to our sense of the formless
bubbling and swirling. In the end result, it is movement and energy
which forms the content of Bornarths art.
Since retiring from teaching Fine Art at Rochester Institute of Technology, (where he has taught since 1960), Philip Bornarth is presently pursuing his art career full time. His work is prized in many public and private collections including Xerox Corporation, Eastman Kodak Company, Gianniny Associates; Marine Midland Trust; Chase Manhattan Bank; M & T Bank; B. Forman Co., Rochester; Cancer Center, Strong Memorial Hospital; Rochester Institute of Technology; and Nixon Hargrave Devans and Doyle. Phil lives with his wife, Sylvia, in Pultneyville, NY.
Asiatic Lilies, water color
Koi Pond with Dark Palm Shadow,
watercolor , 29 "x21"