Sunday, November 12, 2017

Douglas Bourgeois at Arthur Roger

As his global fame has grown, local art icon Douglas Bourgeois' paintings have entranced art lovers everywhere while leaving some baffled. How can such diverse subjects look so ecstatically at home in the same canvas? He once told an interviewer from the London-based website, Griot that to him, "...a heart-shattering soul song is as transcendent as a Giotto fresco or an Emily Dickinson or William Blake poem." This reflects his roots in the tiny rural Louisiana town of St. Amant in a region where Fats Domino is as revered as Pope Francis, a melting pot culture that has embraced diverse ingredients, combining them into joyous new hybrids like jazz and Creole cuisine.
Delirious contrasts abound in dreamily haunting paintings like Our Lady of the Monster Beats where a Creole girl with uplifted arms and a tattooed rural white dude with a karaoke mike stand by a pyramid of boom boxes at an abandoned gas station. Both have shimmering halos like renaissance saints in an otherwise squalid scene of bucolic decrepitude transformed by an eerie, ecstatic aura. In Solomon and the Angels, soul singer Solomon Burke appears in a round icon painting amid seraphic soul sisters and songbirds. In The Ghost of Her Twin, a young redhead with coiled locks and ivory skin faces her double with ebony locks and cafe-au-lait skin, a lingering afterimage of our famously mutable racial history. Psychic complexity defines Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown, above left, as a young diva with a flaming Sacred Heart appears amid moths, vintage light bulbs, neon and gems radiating a mysterious mystical glow. While some equate Bourgeois with multiculturalism, what his vision really reflects is “creolization,” the way we, despite discord and strife, have ultimately found joy in the food, music and visual art of every ethnicity that makes up our regional cultural gumbo. This Spirit in the Dark show embodies his sense of “an electric connection to infinity and beauty,” his mystic poet's gift for seeing the sublime within the ordinary. ~Bookhardt / Spirit in the Dark: New works by Douglas Bourgeois, Through Dec 23, Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St. 522-1999.