“It is not an image I am seeking. It’s not an idea. It is an emotion you want to recreate, an emotion of wanting, of giving and of destroying” - Louise Bourgeois
What is the essential link between mother and child, between self and other, between independence and interdependence, between copulation and creation, between the literal and the figurative? These are just some of the questions posed in the inaugural show of French-American artist Louise Bourgeois's work in Israel, at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The exhibition “Twosome”, jointly curated by Jerry Gorovoy and Suzanne Landau, emphasizes the duality in Louise Bourgeois's work. Bourgeois struggled with bouts of depression throughout her life which is reflected in the pieces selected for the show. The exhibition contains themes of displacement, abandonment, and anxiety, sentiments that permeated her powerful, and at times, chilling oeuvre.
Twosome, which features over 50 works, presents a highly personal connection between the artist and her work. The art of Bourgeois is autobiographical and cannot be separated from her lived experiences. She, herself, said “my sculpture is my body”. Louise Bourgeois's somatic fascination is a strong motif throughout the exhibition. The human body, and primarily the female form, is used as a catalyst with which to explore motherhood, abandonment, love, and fear.
Louise Bourgeois’s had an acute awareness of the relationship between the self and others. In her consideration of relationships the artist created dialogues between contradictory concepts, such as; the conscious and unconscious, mother and child, male and female. Filial relationships are considered in both small and large scale works. Intimate pieces such as Umbilical Cord (2003) and The Birth (2007) portray the intense vulnerability Bourgeois experienced throughout her life. A display of 17 of these smaller works, in a variety of mediums, is expertly juxtaposed with a series of installations meant to serve as confessionals.
The exhibition's namesake piece, Twosome (1991) is a unique work for Louise Bourgeois because of its scale and industrial aesthetic. Despite its hulking presence, Twosome maintains the alluring intimacy of her smaller works. This sculptural installation is a powerful culmination of Louise Bourgeois's exploration of the complex relationship between mother and child. While the work is up for interpretation it is near impossible not to feel a maternal bond existing between the the two tanks as one perpetually moves in and out of the other, with a metal chain serving as an umbilical cord to connect them and a red light pulsing from within the steel sculpture, giving it a sense of life.
While Twosome is predominantly concerned with Louise Bourgeois's relationship with her parents (Spider Couple, 2003) and then her own children, it does not neglect her reflections on romantic relationships. There is a morbid romanticism to her work that is best embodied by Couples (2003). This large sculpture fabricated in cast aluminum is perilously suspended from the gallery’s ceiling by a single string, leaving the warped lovers in a tragic free fall. The shiny exterior of Couple belies its darker purpose as a cathartic exploration of the artist’s lifelong fear of abandonment.
The figurative language used by Louise Bourgeois explores the darker side of human existence through psychoanalysis, metaphor, confession, and more. An overarching theme of duality defines this psychologically charged exhibition which will challenge viewers perception of relationships, while using polarities, to remind them that even from despair can come great beauty. The strongest element of this exhibition lies within its perceptive curatorial team and specifically, Jerry Gorovoy, who worked as an assistant to Bourgeois from the 1980s until her death in 2010. Gorovoy has conceded that working with Bourgeois could be pathological; nevertheless he remains adamant about her prowess and dexterity both as an artist and human being.
Twosome is open at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art from September 7, 2017 to January 8, 2018, while a complimentary exhibition of Louise Bourgeois prints Pink Days / Blue Days is on view at Gordon Gallery from through October 28, 2017. We highly recommend checking out both shows during this exciting moment in the Tel Aviv art scene.