The Glass Magazine: 3 Bs in Belgium by Louise Lui

frances aviva blane web

Frances Aviva Blane, Untitled 1: 34 x 34 cm, pastel on fabriano paper

This month, De Queeste Art, Belgium, will present three unique exhibitions featuring the work of Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), Francis Bacon (1909-1992), and contemporary British artist Frances Aviva Blane.

Louise Bourgeois: Prints will showcase a variety of the artist’s works on paper. Renowned for her sculptures, Bourgeois initially experimented with lithographs in 1938 and other intaglio techniques, before abandoning printmaking to focus on three dimensional works. She returned to printmaking in the 1990s, collaborating with various publishers and printers and revisiting the notes and drawings she had produced decades earlier.

Bourgeois’ work revolves around protection, trauma, hidden emotion, sexuality and fragility, themes which stem largely from her personal life and childhood. The recounting of her early years is a fundamental part of her artistic practice, especially her close relationship with her mother and her childhood trauma of discovering that her English governess was also her father’s mistress. Her exploration of childhood experiences can be seen through The Autobiographical Series, a collection of dry points. Another key work in this exhibition is the raw and personal cloth print The Family. The print depicts a pregnant woman with a man, reflecting on the sexual relationship between man and woman in family and society, another recurring theme in Bourgeois’ practice.

Like Bourgeois, Francis Bacon’s art is deeply personal. First and foremost a painter, Bacon also made 36 prints during his lifetime, some of which will be exhibited at De Queeste. Known for his raw, tortured images created through limp forms and violent brushstrokes, Bacon’s work reveals his inner turmoil and the tenuousness of human existence. In Memory of George Dyer, a lithograph made after a triptych, commemorates Bacon’s lover and friend George Dyer, who committed suicide on the evening of Bacon’s solo show in le Grand Palais (Paris) in 1971. In the lithograph, the human figure has become a leaky, puddle-like form, crumpled and lifeless on the floor.

Frances Blane Heads

Frances Aviva Blane, Head 29: 19 x 29 cm, compressed charcoal on fabriano paper

A similar sense of breaking down pervades Frances Aviva Blane’s Deconstruct, in which she explores the breakdown of paint and charcoal on canvas. Blane says of her practice, “’Painting is a particular form of communication – before speech. It is liquid thought.” Heavy-handed scribbles of charcoal denoting facial features and violent slashes of paint are expressive and visceral, pointing to the disintegration of both self and matter.

While the three exhibitions span across different time periods, cultures and contexts, many similarities – both visual and thematic – exist between them. Housed in an old cloister with connecting rooms, the three exhibitions are shown separately from one another, but visitors are encouraged to find connections between the works on display.

by Louise Lui

The Glass Magazine