Multimedia Black and White Imagery by Richard Borashan

by Paul Weiner

Richard Borashan is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily with black and white imagery. He is currently pursuing an MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Borashan’s work has been featured in a wide variety of galleries in California including White Gloss Gallery, Gallery Godo, the CCAA Museum of Art – Rancho Cucamonga, BANG Gallery, and at a 2010 UNICEF Invitational Show.

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Untitled (Anna) ; charcoal drawing on paper


Paul Weiner:
What are you working on in your studio right now?

Richard Borashan:
Right now, I’m doing a back and forth thing between some large-scale drawings and sculptures. It’s pretty typical that I work on a few different things at the same time, and I try to keep it that way. It helps me keep a big picture state of mind while I work through so many different mediums.

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No Title; silkscreen, ink on paper

Paul Weiner:
Describe the various processes you have used to create black and white images over the past few years.

Richard Borashan:
Each work starts with a similar foundation. I develop a concept and then go digging through my archives of source material to see what type of imagery would be a potential fit. It’s pretty much the equivalent to filmmakers going through all of the locations they’ve scouted. Once I have a few picked out, I decide which medium would be a good fit and take it from there.

If the imagery is being translated into a drawing, then I usually just stick with charcoal or graphite and paper. If I’m working with print, then it’s either with silkscreen or a basic laser/inkjet printer. Video is a tricky one because I haven’t played with it enough yet, but the couple videos I’ve made in the past have been either with a DSLR or a VHS camcorder. I’ve been dying to shoot on some 16mm and Super 8, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. The sculptures I’m working on now are a mix of found objects, enamel, and, potentially, some sort of resin coating. I’m still working it out. Each of the above mediums has a unique process to it as well. There’s definitely a lot of different things going on from beginning to end.

Paul Weiner:
What do these works mean to you? Are they more conceptual or narrative?

Richard Borashan:
I try to find a balance between the two. The conceptual aspect of the work is very important to me, but I also like creating the opportunity for a viewer to construct their own narrative and be involved in their own way. I spend a lot of time thinking about how each of the works interacts with one another and what kind of environment they create when viewed together. They all have their own individual reasons for being created, but I also think of them as contributing to a whole. I like the idea of smaller things making up something bigger.

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No Title; silkscreen, ink on paper

Paul Weiner:
Many of your pieces have very similar aesthetic qualities regardless of the medium you use to create them. Do you try to create some kind of ambiguity as to how you’ve created these images?

Richard Borashan:
Actually, as far as how they’re created or any formal decisions, I’m trying to accomplish the exact opposite of ambiguity. The mediums I choose for each work are chosen for specific reasons, and they are very much part of their conceptual makeup. As far as the content and meaning behind the images I use, those are things I prefer to leave more open to interpretation.

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No Title; laser print on paper

Paul Weiner:
Where do you find inspiration for your art?

Richard Borashan:
In general terms, just things that are out in the world. That’s the main reason why the appropriation of images is important and why I don’t really work in abstraction. I’m more interested in dialogue with what’s already out there rather than only being confined to art itself.

To be more specific, I use culture, society, movies, music, the internet, books, and really anything that has to do with people or any form of media. All above the above play major roles in my practice. I watch a ton of movies, like, at least 4 or 5 a week, sometimes more. Right now, I’m obsessed with classic horror films and classic texts from Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Homer, Hitchcock, Kubrick, etc. I watched Nosferatu again the other day for like the third time this month. I can’t get enough of them.

Paul Weiner:
I like the idea of cultural images and objects carrying meaning through appropriation. Could you name a few of the places where you’ve appropriated the subjects in your images from?

Richard Borashan:
Over the years, I’ve amassed an archive of at least 20,000 images and counting. They’re spread out over a few external hard drives. A majority of them are from the internet from google image search, blogs, yahoo news, or whatever. I’ve also scanned books, magazines, and newspapers and taken screenshots from movies and documentaries. I’ll take anything from anywhere. I’m a digital hoarder to the maximum degree. I’ll save anything that catches my eye for any reason, and, when the time comes to start thinking about using something for a work, I basically go shopping through my database.

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A Moment in Time; laser print on paper

Paul Weiner:
Why do you feel compelled to draw some images while a print, video, or sculpture might be more appropriate for another image? Give us an example of a specific image you have made and why you chose the medium you did for that piece.

Richard Borashan:
It all comes back down to the conceptual aspect of it. I’m extremely detail-oriented, so things like mediums and titles are just one more opportunity to contribute something to the work. Even when I leave a work with No Title, it’s for a specific reason. The larger silkscreen pieces I’ve made more recently worked better with silkscreen because I wanted the feeling of vintage or nostalgic photographs for each work. A lot of the blemishes and accidents involved with the process really allowed me to get that specific aesthetic, whereas something like drawing or laser printing them wouldn’t have accomplished the same thing; believe me, I tried. The heavy amount of technical process involved also created a lot of distance between the artist and the work, which I felt was important for them.

On the other hand, the images I’m working with right now are being turned into drawings with the intention of doing the opposite of the silkscreens. I’m trying to eliminate distance between the artist and the work. I’m not using any tools other than the actual charcoal and paper, and I do all the blending and details with my fingers. The images I’ve chosen play with the relationship between romance and tragedy. The classic idea of a very hands-on artist putting everything into his work is a very romantic, and potentially tragic, notion. It feels very fitting.

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Supermodel Death Dive; laser print on paper

Paul Weiner:
What is the ideal forum for viewing your work?

Richard Borashan:
Actually, I’ve always thought it would be interesting to have my work displayed in a situation where the aesthetics were a complete contrast to how the work was presented. The drawings and some of my other works have a clean presentation, and I could see them shown in a really beat up abandoned building or something. And since the silkscreens are usually assembled hastily with masking tape all over the place, I can see them in a very sterile environment. Or, you know, there’s always the good ole white box gallery we’ve all come to know and love.

If possible, I’d like to give a shout out to my people, the Time Base crew. It’s a small group of us who get together bi-weekly to discuss and critique time-based and new media work. If anybody is in the NYC area and would like to join, check out timebasenyc.tumblr.com. This has been a ton of fun Paul, thanks a lot.


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