Douglas Bourgeois: Spirit in the Dark

Exhibition Dates: November 4 – December 23, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 4 from 6–8 pm
Gallery Location: 434 Julia Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 10 am–5 pm
Contact Info: 504.522.1999;

The Arthur Roger Gallery is pleased to present Spirit in the Dark, an exhibition of collages and paintings by Douglas Bourgeois. The exhibition will be on view at Arthur Roger@434, located at 434 Julia Street, from November 4 – December 23, 2017. The gallery will host an opening reception with the artist in attendance on Saturday, November 4 from 6-8pm. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with the New Orleans Triennial, Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, opening November 18.

Spirit in the Dark, 2011 | Oil on panel 15 x 12 inches

Spirit in the Dark is Douglas Bourgeois’ ninth exhibition with the gallery. The title of the exhibition is taken from the 1970 gospel-tinged soul song by Aretha Franklin. Bourgeois’ long-established inspirations include Deep Soul and Gospel music, primitive rock and roll, vernacular religious imagery, and discarded paper ephemera. These inspirations are apparent in his meticulous figurative paintings featuring subjects in heightened landscapes or interiors, as well as in his collages, which are the foundation of this exhibition.

The artist uses collagist methods to navigate the subconscious and existential mysteries, creating works that have been described as “disarmingly intimate.” A connecting thread is the juxtaposition of the degraded and the sacred, light and darkness, the mundane and the transcendent. Bourgeois describes the Spirit in the Dark as “a spark of hope, an electric connection to infinity and beauty, an infusion of protective grace, a spiritual and creative epiphany.” A painting in the exhibition by the same name features a dark-skinned feminine beauty, a recurring presence in the artist’s work, surrounded by birds, butterflies and moths amidst the backdrop of the night sky. The birds are rendered with anatomical notations on the left, and mirrored on the right instead with Aretha Franklin’s lyrics, as well as those from Mahalia Jackson’s How I Got Over. The small-scale collages in the exhibition are made up of vintage schematics and clothing patterns, fashion ads, food can labels, newspaper clippings, illustrations, and wallpaper. Painted apparitional figures – goddesses, winged men and women, birds – float above these collaged compositions in chimeric narratives, often accented by colored pencil.

Douglas Bourgeois was born in 1951 in the rural southern Louisiana community of St. Amant in Ascension Parish. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1974 from Louisiana State University and worked in New Orleans for several years before returning to St. Amant in 1981. He received critical acclaim for his 2004 mid-career retrospective exhibition Baby-Boom Daydreams: The Art of Douglas Bourgeois organized by the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans; and again later for his inclusion in the 2014 Prospect.3 New Orleans Biennial at the same venue. He has received numerous awards throughout his career including a Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award in 2007, a Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship in 1992; a Southeastern Artist Fellowship from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and R. J. Reynolds in 1987; and an Award in the Visual Arts Fellowship from Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in 1981. His work is in numerous prestigious collections including the Frederick R. Weisman Collection, Los Angeles, CA; the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; the New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA; and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA.