TWO

Bracha L. E and Louise Bourgeois

July 1 - Decebmer 30, 2021

Braverman Gallery is pleased to present “Two” a new exhibition of works by artists Louise Bourgeois and BRACHA L.E, on view at the gallery’s online viewing room. “Two”, surveys the practice of these prominent female artists across media and time spans. Working in disparate formal vernaculars, the works of both artists can nonetheless be characterized by a deeply personal, uncompromising artistic style that explores trauma, femininity and memory and that challenges the hegemony of the defining movements of the 20th and 21st centuries. Over the past 25 years a multitude of conceptual and physical connections between Louise Bourgeois’ and BRACHA L.Es work have been established. Art historians such as Griselda Pollock, Catherine de Zegher and Rosi Huhnhave traced the commonalities shared by these important contemporary artists, despite their generational and geographical distances.

Bourgeois and BRACHA first exhibited side by side in the groundbreaking 1996 exhibition Inside the Visible  at the ICA Boston, MA (which traveled to the National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Whitechapel, Gallery, London, UK; and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia). The exhibition featured works by Agnes Martin, Mona Hatum and Carrie Mae Weems, among others, and shone a spotlight on subliminal links that exist between female artists from different generations. Later Bourgeois and Ettinger were featured in the exhibitions Gorge(l): Oppression and relief in art  at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, in 2006-2007 alongside Frida Kahlo, Marlene Dumas, Francesca Woodman, and more; and in Elles at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2010) which presented them, each in her different way and period, as pioneering artists alongside Ligya Clark and Sherri Levine.

Currently, both artists’ works are exhibited in Psychic Wounds, the Warehouse, Dallas together with Eva Hesse, Cindy Sherman and Cecily Brown, Gerhard Richter, to name a few. Inside the Visible, Gorge(l), and Psychic Wounds are dynamic examples of an arc of exhibitions where, spanning the course of 25 years, the curators recognized BRACHA L. E’s inspiration and invited her to contribute a theoretical article.  The connections between Louise Bourgeois’ and BRACHA’s work have been esteemed in a variety of textual contexts, including Rosi Huhn’s essay “Louise Bourgeois: Deconstructing the Phallus within the Exile of the Self” where the art historian analyzed Bourgeois’ artistic expressions using BRACHA L.E concepts. Another example is the critically acclaimed book Women Artists of the Millennium (MIT Press, 2011), where each chapter was dedicated to a single female artist such as Bourgeois, BRACHA, Sally Mann, Pipiloti Rist and Francesca Woodman, published following a symposium by the same title, held at Princeton University in 2001, marking the 30-year anniversary of Linda Nochlin’s seminal essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”. Another notable occasionwas Griselda Pollock’s lecture What if Art Desires to be Interpreted? Remodelling Interpretation after the ‘Encounter-Event held at the Tate Britain, July 2010.

However, given the vast web of connotations, this is the very first time where the works of Bourgeois and BRACHA are exclusively and directly juxtaposed in the format of a comparative two-person exhibition.

The junctions where the practices of BRACHA and Bourgeois meet are particularly relevant. Despite belonging to different eras and using distinct materials and forms, the works of both artists present a deep engagement with themes of subliminal trauma, the feminine unconscious, and motherhood. For BRACHA the experience of women and mothers in wartime is crucial. Given the insurmountable barriers posed for female artists who were also mothers, even as late as the mid 1990s, breaking the taboos instated by male-centric hegemony as well as by second wave feminist theory, Bourgeois and BRACHA―each of her own accord―formed different explorations where issues of motherhood and trauma could transform the artistic space and its abstract values.

The exhibition however, does not only present an inquiry into the confluences and refluences of the artists’ practices and an examination of the core of each of their artistic productions. It offers a new interpretative model that stimulates thinking while it arouses feeling. Opening a variety of generative possibilities, TWO matrixially’ investigates the interplay of formal, conceptual, material and metaphysical planes within each artwork, with an emphasis on Bourgeois’ sense of empowerment and BRACHA’s sense of vulnerability.

In her capacity as a philosopher BRACHA L.E has developed the Matrixial―a highly complex theoretical model that explores, through art-practicing and psychoanalysis, the thresholds of identity and memory with an emphasis on witnessing and caring. Through an exploration of the gaze and phantasmatic screen, shared affect and artistic ‘com-passion’, she opens new horizons and suggests perspectives on ethics and aesthetics, on beauty, the uncanny, trauma, and the sublime, which allow a fresh look at both artists’ work.

Two extrapolates on this very notion; in re-examining trauma and aesthetic experience through the act of witnessing as suggested by BRACHA, a novel matrix emerges, one that does not fall back on the historic or biographic as interpretive models of encounters, rather one that creates a new set of meanings that are not bound to a predetermined symbolic order and depend on the emotions stirred  by the artwork as it reaches our spirit. That is to say, that while Bourgeois and BRACHA’s work consciously or unconsciously deal with trauma, their use of artistic tools in order to bridge an ocean of emotional depth renders the very concept of trauma anew for the viewer and opens our sensitivities to the healing impact of art.

 

Link to exhibition’s Online Viewing Room

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