WESTPORT — Artist Elena Borstein taps her interest in contemporary architecture in her latest series, “Built/Unbuilt,” at the Atea Ring Gallery.
Opening Saturday, the gallery show includes new and selected paintings and drawings by Paul Matthews and recent drawings and paintings by Dennis Way.
Simple houses were the subject matter in Borstein’s paintings of Mexico, Cuba and Greece.
She writes: “The same concepts of space, form and light that architects are concerned with were in my paintings but without the necessity for the buildings to be functional. In my student days, I painted the Victorian houses of Saratoga and later in Philadelphia the old vaulted corridors of the sculpture studio where I worked. In the past, ideas for my paintings came from my own photographs — my own unique vision of a place or space. For this series of paintings on contemporary architecture, I wanted to try some new strategies.”
“Built/Unbuilt” not only utilizes original photographs as source material but also appropriated architectural models, plans and renderings from books and exhibits.
“Some of the buildings have never really been built,” said Borstein, who lives in Elizabethtown. “A lot of wonderful ideas that architects have are not really built. It’s interesting. The records are these images, drawings and sketches. I tried to include some things that were never built, and some are iconic buildings we know about.”
“Frank Gehry Mash Up” depicts the Walt Disney Auditorium in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
“I started three years ago when I was still getting my retrospective for the 40 years of the Greek work. All the time I was preparing that show, I was reading things about architecture, thinking about it and decided what I wanted to do,” Borstein said.
Two of her paintings pay homage to Louis Kahn, an architect who taught at the University of Pennsylvania when Borstein was working on her graduate degree in sculpture.
In her works, she chose two unbuilt Kahn buildings, which exist only in renderings.
“Louis Kahn had very few buildings built. He is considered one of America’s most famous architects. You would think all of his buildings would be built.”
Sometimes, he created five or six ideas for a building, and none would be chosen. He spoke about architecture poetically, which was a major influence on Borstein.
“I used to sit in on a lot of his classes. I got to know some of the architects that worked there. It was an exciting place to be. He was doing some projects. There were a lot of things going on. I used to talk to people a lot about them. It came into my work in a lot of different ways.”
Borstein stayed a weekend at a Frank Lloyd Wright house, which inspired “Still Bend.”
“Johnson Wax” and “Homage to Frank Lloyd Wright” are pastels based on Wright’s models and plans.
Five acrylic paintings and two pastels comprise “Built/Unbuilt.”
“I always kind of work in pastel and acrylic,” Borstein said. “I just like those mediums. Pastels are tactile and direct and take me a couple of weeks, where a painting can take me a couple of months. Smaller things, I sometime work in pastels.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Built/Unbuilt,” paintings by Elena Borstein.
WHEN: Opening reception 5 p.m. Saturday. Show runs through Aug. 8 and includes new and selected paintings and drawings by Paul Matthews and recent drawings and paintings by Dennis Way.
WHERE: Atea Ring Gallery, 236 Sam Spear Road, Westport.
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Other times by appointment.