In 2016, I was at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao visiting Louis Bourgeois’ exhibition, an artist that unambiguously confessed to seek the healing of her emotional world with her creative work, focusing particularly in the emotions she lived through during her traumatic infancy. Through her sculptures, especially her famous Spiders, she paid homage to her mother, a weaver by trade and a caregiver by vocation. Her, not less famous, Cells revive scenes from experiences that live in her memory, brought to the realm of the artistic creation to exorcise them of their suffering.
“My works are reconstructions of the past. In them, the past has turned tangible. However, at the same time, they were created as an attempt to forget the past, to defeat it, to revive it in the memory and make forgetting possible”, the multifaceted artist, more known for her sculptural work, explains to us.
Art, as expressed in the work of the great creators, comes from the guts of the artist and connects with the innermost being of the spectator. With this premise in mind, and considering that she herself has admitted as much, the work of Louise Bourgeois is unsettling and makes a deep impression.
This was the sensation that grew on me after my first contact with Bourgeois’ production. Since then, I ask myself: Does the artist seek or need any kind of healing therapy? Is art a therapy in itself? If art had therapeutic effects on it’s creator, could we see the evolution of their work as an expression of the healing process? To answer these questions, I made an experiment.
With the purpose of thinking about art and its therapeutic effects, my experiment consisted in dividing my life in four periods to represent them: infancy, adolescence and youth, marriage, and present. When creating these scenes symbolized in the cells, my intention was to shed light into the darkness of my life. By doing this, they became poetry, shelter-cells. It’s hard to believe that what’s distressing and frightening can still be poetic, but it is. I felt comfortable with myself and by myself. Sitting in my cell and observing, I thought: “Here are my knots, I revive them, I expose them, I observe them, I give them light.” These cells, this staging… Do they free me? Do they help me in my search for artistic refinement? I’ll keep you informed, but for now I can tell you that they’ve helped me to find answers for some of my questions.
Art for Me
Art is, ultimately, about us; it speaks about our unconscious and has the power of transforming us. Even though the final purpose of art is not mainly therapeutic, its effects are. Art can become a therapy of the highest degree; to the point that it offers enough motivation to lead an edifying existence. Being devoted to this artistic tension requires for us to approach and study unknown aspects. The road is one of self-discipline, self-perfection, and the pursuit of wisdom. It’s in art where the individual is what he does; it’s also where the individual makes itself; and ultimately, where the individual is.
Exhibition: Long Museum West Bund, China, from November 3, 2018 until February 24, 2019
Curator: Philip Larrat-Smith
Photography: Oscar Rivilla
Music: Dr Symptosizer
Conceptual design: Carolina Verd
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