“Bishop, Bourgeois, and Charbonnet at Arthur Roger,” Gambit Weekly

A LOSS FOR WORDS: New Works by Jacqueline Bishop and Douglas Bourgeois


By D. Eric Bookhardt, GAMBIT WEEKLY

It’s called A Loss for Words, and this two-person exhibition of recent work by Jacqueline Bishop and Douglas Bourgeois is startling in any number of ways. Both bring a mind-boggling deftness to the act of painting, with imagery that you might need a magnifying glass to fully appreciate. Beyond fanatical technique, both display qualities of imagination that take us on a journey, not only to fantastically beautiful other worlds, but also to the realization that these otherworldly places are really, in one way or another, situated in our own backyards.

Bourgeois, who still lives in his Assumption Parish hometown of St. Amant, inhabits that lush frontier where American pop culture bumps up against, not only bayou country, but also ancient mythology.

In Skeletor and Venus, a nude Creole Venus appears in a colorfully shabby kitchen where a Skeletor-like robot is about to raid her refrigerator. Both seem oblivious to ankle-deep flooding and a Leda-like swan paddling beneath the depression-era kitchen table in a scene that is provincial yet sweeping in its psychic and mythic overtones.

His painted collages and woodcuts extend those themes more abstractly, yet it is his lovingly painted school yearbook portraits that somehow meld the parochial and the universal in Bourgeois’ unique blend of down-home alchemy.

For years Jacqueline Bishop’s surreal landscapes have explored that strange zone where creation and destruction, beauty and danger, seem to coexist. Inspired by Brazil’s Amazon rain forests and Louisiana’s coastal ecology, her elaborately rendered paintings reveal the hidden places of the swamp, the rainforest and the mind, probing their inner secrets.

Here all things are connected through sinewy creepers and invisible ecology, birds are both spirits and messengers, and nests are ecological reliquaries adrift in an increasingly alien universe, as we see in World Presence, pictured. Bishop’s notions of cosmic connectedness find further expression in a series of collage paintings featuring ink portraits of birds superimposed on newsprint from around the world, as well as in a series of delicate landscapes painted on baby shoes scavenged from the streets of New Orleans, Brazil and Peru. A Loss for Words brings together the work of two artists whose unique yet related visions articulate the global nature of the local, and vice versa.