Marion Borgelt

Marion Borgelt’s artworks are vibrant and undulating constructions that take varied forms as paintings, sculptures and installations. Each artwork employs a lexicon of symbols and motifs that are drawn from her deep interest in semiotics, language, cosmology and phenomenology. These philosophical and academic concepts are explored through Borgelt’s no-nonsense art-making practice, giving her a tangible means by which to investigate her ideas.

Your work draws on very dense and cerebral themes such as cosmology and phenomenology. Can you tell me about how these concepts inspire your practice and how it manifests in your work?
They may seem like dense themes but to me they are a great source for whimsical and poetic approaches to making art. Why not use our natural world as a springboard for ideas? It seems perfectly natural to me – I am very comfortable with maths, science and physics in so far as how they provide an inroad to understanding our magical universe. For me, an artist, I don’t think one has to try to be the mathematician, scientist or physicist, but each of these disciplines offers a language that can be very inspirational.

Your work relies a lot on contrast – between light and dark, the man-made and natural, constructed and organic worlds. What draws you to these contrasting elements?
Visual contrasts make images dynamic and give them definition. They also accentuate form. However contrasts with subject matter such as natural versus the man-made means one becomes a foil for the other and they complement each other, making the artistic language richer. I worked for a long time with the notion of ‘raw and refined’. It’s hard to describe but it means that there were primal elements underneath very polished surfaces – a bit like some human beings!

I’m interested in the materiality of your work. You work with a wide range of materials, from steel to beeswax. What drives your decision-making when it comes to selecting materials?
An idea will suggest the material or sometimes it’s the other way round, materials suggest ideas. Ideas and materials go hand-in-hand and that’s what gives an artwork integrity and a sense of being well-conceived. Honing ideas and materials simultaneously is part of the ‘plastic’ process of creating art.

How is it that you came to working with such a variety of (and including some unconventional) materials?
The question for me was more like: ‘Why should I work in conventional materials?’ As an artist I believe artists should think independently outside the mainstream when the situation arises. Materials have their own unique qualities, so why not explore those qualities? In the right hands, materials have their own voice and expression.

How important is permanence/impermanence to your work?
In the short term it’s important that the work lasts 20 or so years in collectors’ and galleries’ holdings. However, in the very long term I firmly believe that artists should not think in terms of permanence – that they should be capable of understanding the way of all material things – that nothing lasts forever.

Your work isn’t easily defined in terms of its genre. It is simultaneously sculptural, painterly and immersive … How does a work evolve into the final forms you create?
It’s also hard for me to understand the different dimensions I’m working in but they feel right when I’m doing them. I guess it’s like a musician who plays different instruments. Overall there is the individual sensibility that ties everything together. With many of the immersive works and large-scale commissions, I am usually given specific parameters for which I have to come up with appropriate creative solutions. So in this case, the context will determine to a large extent the outcome.

I’m interested in your artistic reference points. Op-art seems to influence your practice. Can you tell me a bit about this?
It’s not so much Op-art that interests me but rather movement and time. Everything material seems to be so impermanent, so fleeting. As a result I’ve been drawn to making works that convey impermanence and yet are timeless – there’s that penchant for working in opposites again!

Marion Borgelt | Memory & Symbol
Newcastle Art Gallery

Until 23 October, 2016

Courtesy the artist and Newcastle Art Gallery, New South Wales