Saturday 16 August 2014

Review of Louise Bourgeois: A Woman Without Secrets at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Louise Bourgeois: A Woman Without Secrets
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough
18 July – 12 October 2014

“When does the emotional become physical? When does the physical become emotional? It’s a circle going round and round.” Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) posed these questions in 1991, speaking about her series of sculptural works, Cells. “Fear is pain,” she went on, before admitting that emotions are the primary subject of her work – emotions, contradictions and the childhood trauma of living with the knowledge of her father’s affair with her English governess.

The feisty and widely read artist, born in Paris, but an American citizen from 1955, died not long before reaching her centenary. She left behind a great body of work examining the interplay between such opposites as male and female, father and mother, soft and hard, exterior and interior, vulnerability and strength. Her recurring motifs at first appear simple, but, as her assistant and friend for more than 30 years, Jerry Gorovoy, says: “The more time you spend with her work, the more complex it is.” Rather like a spider’s web, one might suggest.

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