When I say the words Greek or Roman art, it probably conjures up images of fluted columns and muscular statues. Tall and gleaming white in the sunlight. This exact imagery has gone on to inspire fine art all the way from the Renaissance to modern-day Marvel movies. Although we now know the statues and art of the time were likely a lot more colorful than we imagine, this imagery has set itself in stone.
That’s how pervasive art like this can be. Perhaps for a gay like myself, it’s the homoeroticism of the art that stayed with me. For the rest of us, it might be the visceral feeling of seeing the human body rendered through marble and stone. Our very bodies — flesh and bone — petrified forever and set on display. You don’t have to look into antiquity to see it. In fact, this practice is alive and well today on Instagram.
Introducing Phantasma Photography
Christopher Borshowa is a sculptor, but instead of a chisel and a hammer, his tools are a camera and editing software. Although his creations live primarily in data and on paper (more on this later) they are no less striking. They conjure up images of mythological figures, deities, and superheroes. Whatever your vice, Borshowa has the image for you. Like a sculptor, no detail goes unnoticed and no contour goes untouched. Every pixel has its place. The result is a veritable feast for the eyes. Coming from south Saskatchewan, Canada, Borshowa has been exploring the human body and psyche since 2011. His work transports the viewer to another world, bending reality with the click of a shutter. Borshowa has been sharing his work on Instagram for some time, but his latest work is now making the transition to print.
Body, Flesh, Bone
Borshowa’s latest project, a photo book called Body ∙ Flesh ∙ Bone sits at the core of his artistic fingerprint. “My images always start with the human body,” says Borshowa on Instagram. Indeed these latest images are a tour de force in capturing just that. This highly anticipated book will also come on the heels of the 39th annual James Weir People’s Choice Awards, which Borshowa is part of. The public (that includes you) gets the chance to vote for their favorite artwork in the exhibition, which has been anonymously submitted. Head on over to the voting page and see if you can find Phantasma Photography in the lineup.
While we wait for the book to drop, we’ll do whatever we can to give him the accolades he deserves. That means following him on Instagram too. We also had the pleasure of chatting with Borshowa about his work and the aforementioned book. Read on for a deeper understanding of his art and a selection of his latest work.
Gayety: Your references come from all over the art world—from the Renaissance all the way to Marvel. Was this an intentional decision or something that happened organically?
The references I use are truly organic. Since I was a small child, I’ve naturally been drawn to grandiose imagery; movies, music, poetry, art, and even my own imagination. Feeling, hearing, and seeing these larger-than-life moments really propelled my art in that direction. Regardless of the emotion, I want my work to be bold, powerful, and intriguing. My inspirations are vast and ever-growing. I think as any kind of artist, it’s important to soak in as much content as you can. I learn and evolve this way!
Gayety: You’ve touched on censorship in social media with your work, and it seems to be a problem that continues to worsen. How, if at all, does this impact your process of creating art? Is it on your mind during the entire creative process?
Our society is no stranger to censorship. I respect and understand it, however at times, I feel it’s unnecessary and controlling. In my opinion, Instagram is the best form of marketing for any artist or creator. You have an unlimited reach and your work can be seen by millions of people all over the world. However, it is wildly restrictive. In context to the kind of work I produce, Instagram does not differentiate between artistic nude and pornography. It’s deemed equally “offensive” “suggestive” and “violating”. In some instances, this can be offensive to the creator and the subject.
I produce tasteful artistic nudes, not offensive lewd pornography. This is something that plays into my process, however. If my model is fully nude, I’ll either censor their genitals during the session with a prop or in post-production by layering images over top. I respect censoring, but I also want the censoring of my work to make sense with the image. Not just a black circle covering the model, but something that builds and works within the image itself. I treat it as part of artistic expression.
Gayety: There is a noticeable balance between masculinity and femininity in your work. How does this factor into your creative process?
I love this question! To sum it up in one word… contrast! I’m fueled by the dichotomy in art and the beauty of traditionally opposing points. For example, my work often depicts strong, muscular, godlike men curated into soft, beautiful, and elegant atmospheres and poses. For me, this shows a different kind of strength. Strength in vulnerability, strength in passion, strength in death. Men can be physically and visually powerful, and can still exist in softness.
Gayety: What is the greatest or most memorable response you’ve seen to your work?
The greatest response to my art is from other artists. Creators of all kinds who saw my work and were compelled and inspired to create something of their own! I’m honored to display artwork in my home studio from people all over the world. I always try to buy this artwork to show my appreciation. The connection that art births is inspiring. Speaking with people all over the world about my art, shooting with people from all walks of life… the list goes on. Hearing how something I created made someone feel! It truly is mind-blowing.
Gayety: What photo books are currently sitting on your coffee table?
I currently have “Painting With Light” by Mati Gelman on my coffee table. It’s a beautiful and intriguing artistic journey that explores everything from the human psyche to social issues. Mati and his book are strong sources of inspiration for me that I frequently reference. I truly admire and respect him and his work.
Gayety: You’ve got a new book coming out soon, tell us about that!
My new coffee table book titled “Body, Flesh, Bone” is my latest passion project. Releasing later this year, it will be a collection of my strongest work from the last ten years, so I have been diving deep into my work, both past, and present. I’m still in the process of selecting the images, but that’s part of the beauty. Revisiting sessions, connections, and memories, while also celebrating the artist I am today and the current work I produce.
On a more technical side, I take every opportunity I can to print my work. Our world and society are so focused on consuming content electronically, and that’s great, but I also love seeing art, not on a screen. Something physical, something I can hang, or flip through. For me, it’s very nostalgic, just like buying a CD and looking through the album booklet, reading the lyrics, and taking in the art. It’s all sensory, and I’m sure others feel the same!
Before You Leave
As we reach the end of our virtual exhibition, make sure to “exit through the gift shop” by following Phantasma Photography on Instagram. If you haven’t voted for him at the James Weir People’s Choice Awards, please take a moment to do him this simple kindness. Check back here, or on his social, for the release of Body ∙ Flesh ∙ Bone. We know you’re going to love it.