Review: Louise Bourgeois prints at Leeds College of Art

Angry Cat – Louis Bourgeois

Angry Cat – Louis Bourgeois

Hayward Touring’s latest print exhibition brings the work of influential French-American artist Louise Bourgeois that was originally brought to Leeds to coincide with Being Human: A Festival of Humanities. Consisting of two collections the exhibition is currently on show in Blenheim Walk Gallery at Leeds College of Art.

Best known for her powerful emotionally charged sculptures, she was also a prolific printmaker and draughtswoman. Bourgeois’ work dealt with strongly autobiographical themes, invoking her childhood emotions (in which we all can be guilty of being far too familiar with) of loneliness, desire, anxiety and jealousy.

Autobiographical Series (1994) consists of 14 etchings illustrating some of her deepest thoughts and memories whilst the 11 Drypoints (all from 1999) brings her obsessions into more vivid focus. Her family ran a workshop restoring tapestries in Paris, which Bourgeois uses to influence the imagery in her autobiographical series. Recurrent themes, such as a woman giving birth, a cat, ladders, long hair, feet, clocks, scissors, bathtubs and a pregnant mosquito all contain references to her emotional biography.

Louise Bourgeois began making prints in the 1930s and briefly ran a print shop in Paris. After, she emigrated to New York in 1938 where Bourgeois eventually cemented Manhattan as her home. She worked at S.W. Hayter’s print workshop, raised a family of three children and went on to teach printmaking at the School of Visual Arts following her husband’s death.

Bourgeois said of printmaking that “the whole history of the creative process is there”. The two collections of works in this exhibition were made when she was in her eighties, after installing a small press in her own home.

Since she was honoured with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1982, Louise Bourgeois has been widely acclaimed as one of the most original artists of the late twentieth century and has exhibited at museums throughout the world, including at Tate Modern in 2007.

Make sure you don’t miss the chance to see the influential artist’s prints at Blenheim Walk Gallery. The exhibition continues until 17 December 2015. To find more info on the exhibition visit the Leeds College of Art website.