Louise Bourgeois – Centre Pompidou 5March08-2June08

I am going to be a big advocate of this Bourgeois’s exhibition, and generally – her art. What I knew about this artist, before going to Paris, was shamefully little. I admired her insight when she made a reflection on the modern artist’s condition, and which thought expresses my own struggle – I’ ll repeat it with pleasure (since I’ve already quoted it in one of my posts):

What modern art means is that you have to keep finding new ways to express yourself, to express the problems, that there are no settled ways, no fixed approach. This is a painful situation, and modern art is about this painful situation of having no absolutely definite way of expressing yourself. This is why modern art will continue, because this condition remains; it is the modern human condition. (…) [Modern art] is about the hurt of not being able to express yourself properly, to express your intimate relations, your unconscious, to trust the world enough to express yourself directly in it. It is about trying to be sane in this situation, of being tentatively and temporarily sane by expressing yourself.

In Pompidou that ‘painful situation’ became a battlefield for bourgeoisanyone who managed to have even an averagely sensitive reception. Bourgeois’s work presented there is like one of her famous spiders: it’s quiet and unpretentious, yet gives you shivers from top to toe. Like a purebred horse – one may be a layman and in a hurry to see ‘the rest of Paris’ – but just has to sense the character, beauty and flair of this art ( ‘Art’ par excellence truly) and to admire it, even without any understanding. It consists of her early paintings and fetish-like wooden sculptures, then a series of absolutely weird and absolutely thrilling installation-like sets constructed out of huge metal cages, old doors and home objects, tapestry heads anda clumsy-looking little pink rag-dolls… One had the impression of being unintentionally and undeservedly a participant in a poignant modern mystery play, which evokes images of sacred places and times when a smile of mum was like a touch of god and celebrating home-ness, sexual life, giving birth meant living to the point of a perfect communion with one’s immortality.

One piece possessed my imagination in a special way – Nature Study (1984-94) – middle-sized sculpture from a series of hybrids, Sphynxes and monsters. Not being able to photograph it I spent some time in drawing it, thend I bought a postcard of it (photo presented to the right has been found on the Net). The headless animal-monster with two pairs of huge breasts, claws and a tail-like curled around genitals was meant to be a representation of the artist’s father – as she stated: As I was demolished by my father, why should I not demolish him?… This disarming honesty just put me to my kneels. What sort of a character, how many years of an inner struggle it takes to be able to reflect on so profoundly intimate, so traumatically hurtful matters in such a free-spirited way?

Anyone interested? Just go to see this compelling show.


About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

3 responses to “Louise Bourgeois – Centre Pompidou 5March08-2June08

  • Despoina

    I am a huge fun of Louise Bourgeois. The use of a spider as a symbol of the (her)Mother is something that knocks my head off! I visited her exhibition this month. Highly recommended 🙂

  • Jake

    this is a great article and i would love to one day be able to see some of Bourgeois works for real.
    I just wanted to let the author of this small article know that they did a great job here, i think i might pass this semester now after reading this article hahaha (im writting about Bourgeois)

  • skonieczna


    Great to be helpful… yet I would encourage you (just like anyone else) to study this artist’s work in depth (eg. from books if not from ‘life’) and to develop your very own, extended reflection on it. Believe me, it’s like a spiritual journey and it’s worth it!

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