Self-portrait of master sculptor and painter Vadim Bora
A retrospective of the late master sculptor and painter Vadim Bora will be held Sept. 28-Nov. 30 at Warren Wilson College’s Elizabeth Holden Gallery, as curated by the artist’s widow, Constance E. Richards, and Dusty Benedict, recently retired Warren Wilson art professor. The retrospective will feature the artist’s drawings, paintings, sculpture, jewelry designs, architectural ornamentation project renderings and maquettes.
The opening event is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. on Sept. 28.
After the unexpected passing of Bora last year at age 56, Richards spent 10 months clearing out his downtown Asheville studio, and set about the monumental project of inventorying and photographing his multitude of works — in both private and public collections — for an eventual catalog and continued exhibitions for museums and university galleries. See the website.
Originally from southern Russia’s rugged Caucasus Mountains, and already an established artist, teacher and arts commentator on television there, Bora came to the United States barely speaking English. He was awarded permanent residency by the federal government under the status “Person with Extraordinary Abilities.” Bora elected to become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2009.
He worked his way up to owning two galleries and contributing to public art collections around the United States, with five large sculpture projects in and around Asheville (including Biltmore Estate’s “Cornelia and Cedric,” depicting a young Cornelia Vanderbilt) , as well as in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Atlanta. His work is also in permanent collections of museums and corporations internationally. He was a member of the National Sculpture Society, Mountain Sculptors and Union of Artists of Russia.
“With this retrospective we see Vadim’s extreme breadth of creativity and command of the medium – whichever medium he happened to choose to express a particular idea,” says Richards, who is fluent in Russian and lived in Russia, but met Bora stateside.
“Vadim continually worked on several series of works at a time, and in this space, we are able to display not only the bodies of work that were not limited by medium, but also the first sparks of the idea, whether scratched out on a post-it note, or contained in the pages of a sketch book.”
Bora relished the freedom of not being enslaved to one particular style. From simple line-drawings that evoke an entire story in just a few strokes of the pen to boldly colorful and impassioned fantasy landscapes, voluptuous nudes and allegorical narratives that reference the fables of his Ossetian (a nationality of the Caucasus) upbringing, all are connected, but maintain their own identifiable spirit per series.
“To me, some faces are exaggerated… cartoonish,” he would say of his portraits. “Others are delicate and require a more impressionistic style. Or someone with strong features needs a powerful expressionistic flourish.”
The exhibition also features archival works that showcase Bora’s early paintings and jewelry engraving techniques upon first coming to the United States, as well as biting satirical commentary in the form of political cartoons that he would pen for his hometown newspaper in the city of Vladikavkaz (pop. 350,000).
The exhibition is amended by essays from Dusty Benedict and writings by Richards, a journalist, arts and culinary writer by trade, who collaborated with her husband on exhibitions and writings for Vadim Bora Gallery.
Regular hours for Holden Gallery are 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday, or via appointment by calling 828-771-3038. A Curators Talk will be Sunday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m.