See: Louise Bourgeois at the Art Gallery of NSW

3 Minute Read

The Louise Bourgeois exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW for me is basically perfection. It is the best type of art – art that makes you feel all the feelings. As a woman, a daughter and a mother I felt the anger, pain, fear, passion, loathing, love, joy and pure rage. The vast contradictions of being a woman laid bare.

Bourgeois, born in 1911, was a pioneering force in modern art and like so many other women her path to genuine recognition is fascinating. A prolific painter, printmaker and sculptor, her work had been shown in smaller galleries for decades. However, it wasn’t until 1982, at the age of 70, that Bourgeois rightfully claimed the spotlight as the first ever female artist to have a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In a society that often renders women less visible as they age, Bourgeois defied conventional norms. The exhibition becomes a testament to her resilience and serves as an inspiration, challenging the societal emphasis on youth, beauty, and fertility.

What resonates most profoundly is the revelation that some of Bourgeois’ most iconic pieces, such as the colossal 10-meter giant spider ‘Maman’ currently poised at the gallery’s entrance, were crafted when the artist was well into her 80s. The image of an 85-year-old Bourgeois, a diminutive force of creativity, sculpting a giant, magical being with her bare hands becomes a powerful symbol, dismantling stereotypes and demonstrating that the only limitations as we age are those we impose upon ourselves.

The exhibition is a remarkable journey through the realms of creativity and self-expression. It urges all, regardless of age or background, to immerse themselves in Bourgeois’ world—a world that speaks to the very core of human emotions and experiences. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you need to go.

In the words of Bourgeois herself, “A work of art doesn’t have to be explained. If you do not have any feeling about this, I cannot explain it to you. If this doesn’t touch you, I have failed.”

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