This Sunday, In Sao Paulo, I had the pleasure to see the work of Louise Bourgeois in Instituto Tomie Ohtake, that will be exhibiting until August 28th. "The return of the prohibited desire" would be the exact translation.
I went, without doing my research, and not knowing much about what I would see. I knew about the "Maman", her huge spider sculpture, but that was about it.
"I have been to Hell and back and let me tell you it was wonderful."
Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris, December 25th (Capricorn), 1911. She had a big childhood trauma: discovering her English governess and nanny was also her father's mistress. Eventually, all her traumas and tensions triggered her creative impulse.
Bourgeois' parents owned a gallery that dealt with tapestries, and she would fill in designs that would become worn. She studied math & geometry at the Sorbonne (used to be the University of Paris), but when her mother died in 1932, she abandoned math to study art.
Her father, whom she'd always disliked since the incident with her nanny, obviously didn't support her decision. She said he would always tease her, dominate the household and he had an explosive temper.
She would write all her memories in her diary, since she was a little girl. The Ecole de Beaux-Arts was Bourgeois' next school, and she turned to her father's infidelities for inspiration.
"Art is a guarantee of sanity. That is the most important thing I have said."
Bourgeois opened a print shop next to her father's tapestry shop/gallery, where her soon-to-be husband, Robert Goldwater [art historian], one day came in asking for a print of Pablo Picasso. She soon got married and went to New York City. She could not conceive, so she adopted her first child, but soon gave birth to her other two children.
"I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands."
Profession: Fine Artist/Feminist
Influences: Surrealism, primitivism, and modernism
(Alberto Giacometti, Constantin Brancusi)
Work: Abstract, symbolic, autobiographical
1. Childhood trauma & hidden emotions (anxiety and loneliness)
2. Architecture & memory (betrayal)
3. Sexuality & fragility (women, and human figures)
"Once I was beset by anxiety but I pushed the fear away by studying the sky, determining when the moon would come out and where the sun would appear in the morning."
"Art is manipulation without intervention."
"Bourgeois stated that the Cells represent “different types of pain; physical, emotional and psychological, mental and intellectual… Each Cell deals with a fear. Fear is pain… Each Cell deals with the pleasure of the voyeur, the thrill of looking and being looked at.”
During the 50's she made the transition from would and other upright structures to marble, plaster and bronze.
In 1982, she received her 1st retrospective at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).
In 2010, she used her art to speak up for the LGBT equality, and soon died in New York City. She finished all her work one week before her death.
Death: Heart failure.
::: The exhibition I saw was beautiful, her art expresses her feelings and transmits it to the audience. I felt her anxiety, her claustrophobia, and her hatred towards her father.
This woman was beautiful and fragile, and her art work had to be huge, involving whoever wants to be in it (literally).
My favorite quote from her:
"CLAUSTROPHOBIA AND OMNIPOTENCE
I WANT THEREFORE I CAN
I CAN BUT I'M AFRAID
I'M AFRAID THEREFORE I LIVE."