The work: Alia Borodina, Heart of the Forest, 2023. Acrylic and recycled beeswax on canvas, 100 x 100cm. Courtesy: the artist.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,” says Russian-born, Australia-based artist Alia Borodina, quoting Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s poignant novella The Little Prince. It is this sentiment that informs Alia’s work – Heart of the Forest – as well as her practice as a whole, with the artist seeking to provide both viewer and artist with a “portal” to an inner realm suffuse with colour and metaphor.
The work looks down upon an unfamiliar landscape, populated by twisting botanical forms and industrious bees, which are set adrift amongst dunes of honeycomb. Much like a dream, the work seems at first to be wonderfully nonsensical. However, with time and effort, each symbol can be decoded to reveal an internal truth.
Within Heart of the Forest, the hive – the heart of the bee colony – is constructed of symbols, with the pine cone representing the mind, the veins and arteries of the heart representing the body and ribbons of blue air representing the spirit. The artist has used real beeswax in this work, the fruit of the bees’ labour transformed into prayer candles to be lit for service before, then being reused once more to reconstruct their hive.