Louise Bourgeois

What an endless source of inspiration is the late, great painter, sculptor and installation artist Louise Bourgeois! Best known for her large scale sculpture and installation art, Louise Bourgeois was also a prolific painter and printmaker. Excelling as a female artist in a traditionally (and still!) male-dominated art world, Bourgeois is a personal hero of mine and endless source of inspiration with her super original and evocative works that span a breadth of mediums but are linked by her idiosyncratic voice and vision. Themes present in her vast oeuvre include sexuality, family, domesticity, death and the subconscious.

In the nineteen fifties, her work was exhibited alongside Abstract Expressionists such as Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt. Around this time she befriended artists like Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Her work has strong overtones of Surrealism and Feminist Art. Wow! I just discovered that in 1973—the year before I was born—Bourgeois taught at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York: the same school that I attended in 1999. What an honour to discover she was in the same spot as I so many years later.

Continuing her long and illustrious career, Bourgeois made work up until a week before her death in NYC in 2010, at age 99. What a legend!

French-American artist Louise Bourgeois plumbed the depths of the human psyche. Born December 25, 1911; Paris, France. Died 99 years later on May 31, 2010; New York City, United States.

French-American artist Louise Bourgeois plumbed the depths of the human psyche. Born December 25, 1911; Paris, France. Died 99 years later on May 31, 2010; New York City, United States.

I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands…
— Louise Bourgeois
Louise Bourgeois  Maman , 1999 Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Louise Bourgeois
Maman, 1999
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

I came from a family of repairers. The spider is a repairer. If you bash into the web of a spider, she doesn’t get mad. She weaves and repairs it.
— Louise Bourgeois
Louise Bourgeois   Sainte Sebastienne , 1992  Drypoint on Somerset Satin paper  119.4 × 94.0 Size (cm)  47.0 × 37.0 Size (in)

Louise Bourgeois
Sainte Sebastienne, 1992
Drypoint on Somerset Satin paper
119.4 × 94.0 Size (cm)
47.0 × 37.0 Size (in)

Louise Bourgeois in front of  Saint Sebastienne  in her Brooklyn studio (1993). Photo: © Vera Isler, © The Easton Foundation/VAGA, NY

Louise Bourgeois in front of Saint Sebastienne in her Brooklyn studio (1993). Photo: © Vera Isler, © The Easton Foundation/VAGA, NY

Louise Bourgeois’ totem poles. I had the great pleasure of seeing a room full of similar totem poles in New York in 1999.

Louise Bourgeois’ totem poles. I had the great pleasure of seeing a room full of similar totem poles in New York in 1999.

LouiseBourgeois-Art-ModeArte.jpg

Nick Cave

Had my pretty little socks blown off by the wonderful vision and realisation of extraordinary African American contemporary visual artist Nick Cave (different fella to the musician of the same name) in his vibrant performing art piece HEARD, which I had the immense pleasure of enjoying alongside hundreds of other gallery-goers at Brisbane’s QAGOMA a couple of years ago.

Still promo image from  Heard  performance art by Nick Cave

Still promo image from Heard performance art by Nick Cave

HEARD consists of 30 'soundsuits', made to be worn or displayed as sculptures. Cave created his first soundsuit in 1992 in response to the now infamous beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police and his awareness of the danger of being a black man in the United States. Describing the creative process, he speaks of picking up a twig from the ground, something of no value, and adding another twig, and then another, to form a protective suit. Cave's soundsuits offer a way to express individuality while shielding identity markers such as skin colour, gender or sexuality.

HEARD comes alive both as a large-scale community performance, and when walking around the soundsuits, hearing the rustle of the raffia and imagining the sculptures fully in motion. In performance mode, each horse is brought to life by two dancers who develop its behaviour and character. HEARD involves a group of individuals working together to become something larger – firstly as a pair, and then as the 'herd' – and relies on the strengths of the individual and the massed group. Similarly, the choreography shifts from free-form improvisation to a trained body of dancers moving in unison; open-ended creativity and co-ordinated structure are of equal value, as they are within our society as a whole. — QAGOMA website

I just love how HEARD was colourful, vivacious, exciting, energising and celebratory, whilst simultaneously making a bold statement on such serious topics as race relations and the tragic beating to death of Rodney King and multitudes of other innocent African American people. It also makes me think of our own Australian Aborigines, whose bodies fill an inordinate number of jail cells and positions on the deaths-in-custody list that is our great national shame.

Mo.Artist

I adore the colourful, joyful collage work of Melbourne-based Mo.Artist. In what appears to be the lovechild of tribal art and playful cut-and-paste sessions, her work seems to express something about the unique quirkiness inherent in humans ever since we emerged from the caves and gazed up at the stars, longing to dart about the universe like cosmic superhero explorers. Such fun!

The Visitor #8   collage  Mo.Artist

The Visitor #8
collage
Mo.Artist

Untitled   Collage  Mo.Artist

Untitled
Collage
Mo.Artist

The Visitor #25   collage  Mo.Artist

The Visitor #25
collage
Mo.Artist

Mask #7 / Cry in the Night   collage  Mo.Artist

Mask #7 / Cry in the Night
collage
Mo.Artist