Local artist explores new creativity in art show

As Robert Borja sat in his living room in Hyde Park surrounded by dozens of his paintings hanging and explaining their various meanings, you could guess that he has a passion for painting, but you would not guess that up until recently, he never explored this passion.

“I wanted to be a painter when I went to school, but I thought I couldn’t make a living as a painter, so I didn’t pursue it,” Borja said. “I’ve always wanted to do this and I finally faced the fact that I can do what I want to do now.”

The colorful paintings hanging on Borja’s wall are only a few of his pieces; 13 of them currently reside at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. Shore Dr., as part of his art show that runs through Jan. 31.

All of his paintings portray an abstract expressionism that Borja didn’t even know he had inside of him. Shapes twist and collide in colors and forms against the canvases.

“I hadn’t intended to do abstract work, but that’s where I found myself going. It just happened that the shapes formed this way,” he said.

Borja works on his art three or four hours a day, using his preferred median of oil for his pieces. Although Borja’s past is filled with making art, this is the first time in his life he is seriously painting.

For Borja, his passion and talent for art at an early age formed who he would be as an artist today. He studied at places like the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art, and went on to work as the art director for the Science Digest Magazine.

“After a number of years, it began to get routine,” he said. “I could predict what was next and it got boring.”

That’s when he and his wife, who he met in art school, quit their jobs to work as illustrators for children’s trade books and textbooks. Illustrating for subjects such as social studies, health, math and literature formed his work to be creative, but more figurative rather than abstract.

Now, Borja has broken away from literal and figurative art forms and is letting his creativity flow limitlessly into his work. He said shapes, especially in the form of an ellipse, inspire him.

“I realized that circles are closed, stable shapes and that they have no direction, but ellipses have an axis…they have a direction,” he said. “I play with these shapes and how they interact as conversational pieces.”

These pieces can be seen at the Montgomery Place art show through the end of the month, and Borja said that just like with any abstract artist, he has gotten diverse feedback. On Jan. 5, Montgomery Place held an opening reception for Borja and his art show, where he was able to expose his paintings for the first time.

“One person kept saying they don’t like abstractions and they kept trying to persuade me to pursue painting trees,” he laughed. “Generally, people have felt that there was a kind of happiness they got from the abstract work—that it made them feel joyful.”


[Via: Hyde Park Herald]

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