In the final decade of her long life, Louise Bourgeois was profoundly productive and powerful in her work as an artist. Here was a woman who boldly used her personal experiences, traumas and history to expose universal human truths.
The exhibition is part of the National Galleries of Scotland Artist Rooms collection, major presentations of works by iconic artists such as Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol and now Louise Bourgeois. From the catalog:
"Louise Bourgeois invites us to think again about creativity, relations between the sexes, youth and age, courage and fear, and the meaning and purpose of our lives. Louise Bourgeois is possibly the greatest of those four dominant female figures of the twentieth century, keeping company with Georgia O'Keeffe, Frida Kahlo and Agnes Martin. She belongs to the tradition of the true modern geniuses: Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and Susan Sontag."
Two short films do an excellent job sharing the essence of the SNGMA exhibition, plus a concurrent exhibition of Bourgeois' drawings at The Fruit Market. The SNGMA video is an interview with Jerry Gorovoy, her long-time studio assistant and caregiver later on. The BBC's Secret Knowledge features a tour of the exhibitions with Tracey Emin, with whom she collaborated towards the end of her life.
Bourgeois' work influenced me strongly when I started making art. My work is based on personal narrative, something I questioned then as being too...well, personal. After seeing the documentary The Spider and the Mistress, I stopped questioning myself and haven't looked back.
Once again, Bourgeois is inspiring, at a time when I've questioned if I started "too late." Some of her most important work was made in her late nineties, thanks to apparent good health and support. To Emin's point, we have plenty of time. It's what we do with it that matters. I would also add, it's the relationships we carry with us that matter just as much.