Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Farewell Louise Josephine Bourgeois

I should be painting today. I've not done so since returning from Perth a week ago. I had planned to spend all day in the studio and not succumb to any distractions, but when I learned that Louise Bourgeois had passed away, I felt compelled to pay some kind of a tribute to her, even if only in the form of a blog post. However, my respects run far deeper than the words on this page.

To look at my work you would not necessarily recognise that for the past 10 years, Louise Bourgeois has been one of my greatest artistic influences. I don't choose to imitate but rather allow inspiration to take hold and manifest in it's own wonderful and often peculiar ways.

Unfortunately, I never met Louise Bourgeois, nor was I allowed to take photographs of her work at an exhibition in Dublin years ago, (way before the iPhone!); so I have grabbed a few images from the internet to illustrate this post.

I have mentioned here in this blog several times as well as dedicating this post from 2006 to her, quoting some excerpts from her book Destruction of the Father / Reconstruction of the Father.

I just adore that book, and refer to it often, it showcases her fertile imagination and holds a wealth of experience and inspiration... and through her words, her images became more appealing and meaningful to me.
To be born an artist is both a privilege and a curse. How can it be taught? It is not possible to become one, you can just accept or refuse the gift. It is not in my power or is it my responsibility or am I willing to try the impossible aim [of] teaching someone to "become" an artist.

A diary entry from 1983:
Success or good news is terrifying and provokes attack, anxiety attacks or aggressive and murderous attack; it is the fear of the alter ego. I do not want to be rewarded or exalted. I detest it. It makes me bite. It is not ingratitude, it is not fear, it is terror.

Every time I open the book, I am greeted with this...

My name is Louise Josephine Bourgeois.
I was born 24 December 1911, in Paris.
All my work in the past fifty years, all my
subjects, have found their inspiration in
my childhood.

My childhood has never lost its magic, it
has never lost its mystery, and it has never
lost its drama.

Almost childlike themselves, they are possibly the most simple words to grace the book, said with the kind of innocence that many of us strive to hang on to, but with a lifetime of experience that many of us will never know. She lived ninety-eight years. I have to wonder, to make it that far and not see out 100, was it a choice? Was she ready to go beyond her lifetime on earth? She has certainly left behind an amazing legacy and will no doubt forever inspire future generations of artists and women alike.

In a questionnaire from 1971, Louise was asked -
Do you feel you have as much recognition of your work as you would like?

She answered simply -
No. But recognition will come in time, and this is enough for me.

I think she can rest assured that she has made her mark in this world and not only in the form of recognition, she was also a true inspiration figure to so many and shall continue to be well beyond her time on this earth.

Rest in Peace SpiderWoman.

above image:
Louise Bourgeois in 1990,
behind her marble sculpture Eye to Eye (1970)
Photo by Raimon Ramis

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