Mary Boochever Explores the Art of Color - 27 East

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Mary Boochever Explores the Art of Color

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"Inner Landscape, Gamma" by Mary Boochever. GARY MAMAY

"Inner Landscape 2" by Mary Boochever. GARY MAMAY

"Donacon Study" by Mary Boochever. COURTESY MARY BOOCHEVER

"Neda" by Mary Boochever. COURTESY MARY BOOCHEVER

"Lionheart" by Mary Boochever. GARY MAMAY

"Litae" by Mary Boochever. GARY MAMAY

Mary Boochever. 
TANYA MALLOT

Mary Boochever. TANYA MALLOT

authorMichelle Trauring on Oct 12, 2023

“Man is a microcosm, or a little world, because he is an extract from all the stars and planets of the whole firmament from the earth and the elements; and so he is their quintessence.” — Paracelsus, as quoted by artist Mary Boochever

Sometimes, Mary Boochever refers to herself as a “chromonaut” — and she is only half kidding.

To the Sag Harbor-based artist, color sits at the heart of her work. It is a transformative agent, she said, a system attached to socio-religious philosophies, a framework for the themes she explores in her paintings, sculptures and installations.

And it is truly that: an exploration.

“I really do see myself as someone who’s exploring different venues, but not in the sense of an outsider looking in,” she said, “but more I immerse myself in the different ideas that I’m working with.”

In 2019, Boochever’s work captured the eye and imagination of Jocelyn Miller, assistant curator at MoMA PS1, who selected her as the winner of the 81st annual Artist Members Exhibition at Guild Hall. There, her newest body of work, “Mary Boochever: Chart of the Inner Warp,” will open with a reception on October 28 in the Marks Family Gallery North — Tito Spiga Exhibition Space, in conjunction with the 84th installment of the group show.

“Through color and through color symbolism, I’m expressing the connection between the inside of the body and the rest of the world — or the universe,” Boochever said. “I’m trying to express something that’s very hard to express. If it was something that I could just say with words, then maybe I wouldn’t be painting.”

Born into a Washington, D.C.-based Foreign Service family in 1954, she would go on to study at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste — or The Academy of Fine Arts — in Munich, Germany. And it was there that she first experienced a “familiar art school crisis,” she recalled.

“I didn’t really know why I was making art anymore,” she said, “and I decided if there was anything that I was passionate about, it was color.”

Boochever immersed herself in the color theory department and, in 1979, settled in New York City, her new artistic home.

“When I eventually moved back to the United States, I found that if I wanted to continue in my explorations — that’s what I would call it, explorations of color — I would need to become more familiar with color and color systems attached to socio-religious philosophies and mysticism,” she said. “I guess that’s sort of where my direction headed from that point on.”

In developing her own color language, Boochever has explored literary, historical and theoretical sources, from the Kabbalah and feng shui to theosophy and alchemy. She is a practitioner of tai chi, she said, and is a voracious reader as part of her artistic practice — all to better inform the work.

The title of her exhibit, “Chart of the Inner Warp,” is derived from the Nei Jing Tu, a Daoist “inner landscape” diagram that depicts the human body as a microcosm of the universe, mapping various energies and systems. In her own work, Boochever mirrors this through color.

“The movement of the color gradations in the artwork support and enhance the movements of those using the space,” she said. “So there’s a kind of connection there, between being in the space and looking at the color movement. There’s a contemplative element to this, to what I’ll be showing, and there’s also a little bit of humor.”

A second group of paintings will relate to the wells and springs of the ancient world. And in addition to her normal research, Boochever said, “it might have involved a visit or two.”

“I was reading a book about these wells and springs, and I noticed that there were a lot of references to myths and legends that were connected with them,” she said. “So this group of paintings is referencing those myths and legends, and this ingrained connection that we have to these places, and this sort of ties into the bodily experiences that we have that are connected to various socio-religious philosophies.”

Quoting author Paul Christian, she said: “There is tranquility and spiritual potency to these wonderful places.”

“Mary Boochever: Chart of the Inner Warp,” a solo exhibition by Mary Boochever, and the 84th annual Artist Members Exhibition will open with a members reception on Saturday, October 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Guild Hall in East Hampton, and remain on view through January 8. Hours are Friday through Monday, 12 to 5 p.m., and admission is free. For more information, call 631-324-0806 or visit guildhall.org.

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