Suly Bornstein Wolff is a multi-faceted artist who works in a variety of media, from oils to acrylic, drawing to watercolor. She is a virtuoso artist who has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally in venues as diverse as Florence, Tel Aviv and New Delhi, India, and of course New York. Reminiscent of styles as diverse as the quasi-abstracted paintings of Cecily Brown, the metaphysical installation and wall sculpture of Eva Hesse, as well as the paintings symbolist landscapes of Gustav Klimt, Suly’s works are simultaneously lyrical and mysterious, jubilant yet pensive. Employing these paradoxes, she skillfully applies a multi-hued palette of soft violets, ochres, and browns to engender a sense of memory and longing for far away people and places.
Suly’s work highlights elemental images, using dramatic ploys such as contrasts in scale, shifts in focus, mirrored reflections, staccato images, and multiple or layered surfaces. Sensory perception for Suly is a spiritual activity, one that leads to a heightened awareness of both nature and culture—this thought process points to a new kind of realism—one that is engaged with the actual processes of life. Yet, it also references the theoretical avant-garde conceptions of deconstruction emerging during Modernism. Her work is intense, yet moving, powerful yet sensitive. Gathering her subjects in her field of vision, she draws on her inner world, inviting us to join her on a journey of discovery of the essence of being, depicting new truths of the meaning of existence. Drawing us into an enigmatic and luxurious world of imagination, seduction, and spirit, she creates organic shape and flowing shapely contours. Her luscious approach is inspired.
Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, she was exposed to art from a very young age. Before turning 20 the artist has immigrated to Israel and studied at Seminar Ha’kibbutzim to become a teacher. For many years Suly’s interest focused on design and all its forms. 13 years ago the multi-disciplinary artist decided to devote herself to art. She quickly created an overture that represents a crossroads of East and West. Drawing upon sources as varied as Orientalism, Byzantine art, and even Mycenaean metalwork, the artist also exhibits more contemporary references, including Art Nouveau symbolism, and modernist Abstraction. Executed in a strongly stylized painting method, the work is distinguished by layered shapes and elegant color. Traipsing across a broad oeuvre that shifts and morphs throughout time and space, Suly is an artist like no other. Not constrained by the rhetoric and dogmas of style, she marches to the beat of her own drum, moving among several approaches to creation, to best enable her own freedom of expression. Even so, the energy and vigor of her explosive impressionistic still landscapes, the lush and sumptuous qualities of her still life’s, and the playful, yet eerie implications of her realist works—all work together in concert, evincing a solid body of unity and contiguity between individual works that represent a totalizing perspective that demonstrates the artist’s joie-de-vivre and reverence for life’s mysteries.
Closely in touch with the natural and organic forms, shapes, and colors of nature, Suly’s work vibrates with a special power unique in the contemporary art scene. In Landscapes, a series of post-impressionist/neo-expressionist paintings, the viewer is presented with works that are bold, animated, and visionary. In one oil-on-canvas work, a stunning landscape and seascape are combined in an effortless fusion which, at the core brings to mind a gushing fountain-like blossom of fireworks rendered in agitated multihued Technicolor strokes, all radiating against a shimmering-black ground. Reminiscent of the Futurist artist, Giacomo Balla’s iconic image Street Light, Suly takes Balla’s innovations one step further: she breaks beyond the conventions of representation fully enfolding the sparks of energy into a realm of pure experience.
Another groundbreaking work, Thicket, also pushes boundaries in new and exciting ways. An oil-on-canvas work, Thicket’s composition consists of a ground of almost snakeskin-like texture in a rich cerulean blue, upon which free-floating geometric shapes of earth-toned geometric shapes. Like Paul Klee’s modernist ruminations on the deconstructed grid, Suly orchestrates abstract rhythms of tranquility and eccentricity in all its geometric potentialities. Trees, carries references that go back in time to a much more distant past. Bringing to mind the ancient tribal works of the prehistoric ages, the image references an abstraction and pattern that recalls a sun-like god of fire, burning in her own effigy of flames and solar passion. Reveling in her own primitive and primal urges, Suly has accessed a range of influences through art history to best express her inner passions and artistic instincts.
It is also obvious that works like these take nature as their point of departure—its natural ebbs and flows, exponential growth patterns, and the vitality of mother earth’s spiritual energy all merge and flow on the surface of her canvas. Another series that chooses to carefully observe nature, yet in a totally new perspective, is her series of voluptuous, yet surreal installations and wall sculptures. Drawing to mind the contemplative quality of Gerhard Richter, these crawling objects and environments are placed in abstract locales of luminous pinks, topaz and sapphire.
In each of her works, regardless of the medium or subject, the rhythms and patterns Suly creates are compelling and distinctive. Her rich application of paint, the balance and flows created on the canvas surface, all represent a zealous vision of an ardent enthusiast. Relying equally on her unconscious, and the world around her for inspiration, she employs a philosophy and approach embraced by many poets… Personal experimentation and an openness to forms enable Suly to reach into a deep inside the soul, and allow her to recreate these images with fervor on the surface, gorgeously applying the medium of paint with beauty and sensitivity, capturing an otherworldly spirit in their magical reminiscences of memory and hope.
Ultimately, Suly’s work is a meditation on natural life force energies, universal and speaking a truth to those from all walks of life. At its core, her work straddles the line between representation and abstraction, revealing how ordinary objects often serve as a point of departure for an artist’s vision, or, alternatively, how an artist’s abstracted forms may subtly suggest recognizable elements. Such work addresses three significant preoccupations in contemporary art: shifting perceptions of identity; explorations of the political landscape; and the notion of the sublime and the dematerialization of the art object. The artist’s strength lies within this fluid movement between genres and categories. Caught between description and dreamlike states, and the observed and the imagined, Suly’s work transforms the natural world into poetic visions and fantasy, while still utilizing symbolic elements to convey psychological ideas and emphasize the “freedom” of art from traditional culture.