In his new exhibition opening May 25, 2003, Shuki Borkovsky exhibits works from the past two years: a series of photographs from the cycle: “Mirrors, The Garden / Anamorphoses “ and paintings from the cycle :“Echo and Narcissus”. In the cycle : “Mirrors, The Garden / Anamorphoses” the artist makes new and surprising use of the photographic medium in order to focus the viewer’s attention on questions of vision and doubt, central to his work of the past two decades. Those works consisted of phantasmagoric images such as the silhouettes of sailing ships and the cartographic images in his paintings of the early 1990s and, later, the images of crystal chandeliers reflected in mirrors. These paintings demanded the active presence of the viewer, a concentrated observation that led him, paradoxically, to question seeing and to doubt the truth in what was reflected.
In his anamorphic photographs of gardens, the artist deals with similar questions. The original photograph is distorted to unsettle the viewer’s certainty of seeing the thing represented thereby. An additional distortion of the photograph utilizes the moiré effect that creates a “spiraling” and “whirlpool” effect in the image. (In standard, correct, prints the moiré effect is regarded as a fault, while Borkovsky makes this distortion a fundamental value of the image.) An enigmatic photographic image is attained, which suspends the gaze while questioning “correctness” of vision and, particularly, photography as representation. “Truth” will be revealed, magically, only by correction of the representational fault through its reflection in a curved mirror: paradoxically, “truth” appears as a reflection, as likeness and illusion. The artist, the “salt merchant”, re-turns himself and the viewer to a state of doubt.
The diptychs from the “Echo and Narcissus” cycle (oil paint and gold leaf on canvas) maximize abstraction, concentration and reduction that characterize Borkovsky’s work. As told by its name, the cycle is encoded with figurative images. The most abstract state is also the most figurative. Narcissus reaches awareness only through his reflection, and Echo is present in the world as a reverberation, a repetition. The viewer is in position to play a major role in charging these paintings with symbolic couples of all times and with further reflections. The viewer can be either Echo or Narcissus, or both at the same time.
The technique of distorting an image in such a way that it can be viewed in its correct form from a particular point or through its reflection in a curved mirror. When seen directly it appears abstract and incomprehensible.
The system of central perspective not only rationalizes a relationship between objects within a picture, but also establishes a relationship between the viewer and the represented images. Anamorphoses are an extreme example of this subjectivization of the viewing process. The observer is first deceived by a barely recognizable image, and is then directed to a viewpoint dictated by the formal construction of the painting. Indeed, etymological origin of the word – from the Greek ana(again), morph(shape) – indicates that the spectator must play a part and re-form the picture himself.
The image that appears, as if by magic, attracted artists, philosophers and poets for centuries. Durer, Leonardo da Vinci and Holbein (“The Ambassadors”) all created anamorphic images. Jean Cocteau writes of the anamorphic image as that ‘No man’s Land’ where poetry and science meet.
Anamorphic images, were considered ‘wonders’ and miracles of art imbued with mystical, theological and philosophical significance.
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were the golden age of anamorphosis.