Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Went to see Louise Bourgeois at the Tate Modern on Saturday. If you expect an objective review of the exhibition, look away now. Privately (unless I have to be teacherly or technical) I look at art in a strictly biased, blinkered, subjective, egocentric way. It either speaks to me personally or it doesn't. If it doesn't, I might pass by silently or I might express a judgement that completely misses the point or is at odds with the most esteemed critical opinions. But I don't mind.

So: Louise. If I had met her, I'm pretty sure we would have become friends. I love her face, her brusque speech, her disdain of niceties, her fragility, her toughness. But I don't love her art. Like Frida Kahlo (whom she obliquely reminds me of) she is a wounded soul and those wounds dominate her landscape, obliging you to share her prison. Entering her cells feels like stepping into the house of a terminally ill, neglected, abandoned person. You feel compassion for the patient and admire the sinister beauty of their claustrophobic ambiance (smelling of camphor, lavender, dust and rage) but you can't wait to get out of there.


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