Douglas Bourgeois‘ meticulously rendered work reveals incredible craftsmanship wedded with a masterful ability to express the artist’s vision through obsessive attention to detail. He combines his technical rigor with a far-ranging grasp of the iconography of late 20th and early 21st-century culture.
As noted by art historian Isabelle Loring Wallace, Bourgeois “purposefully adopts certain hallmarks of an unsophisticated, self-taught esthetic—frontality, inconsistent scale, awkward perspective, the absence of facture, brilliant color—often deploying them in conjunction with references and motifs (voodoo, oil refineries, local musicians) that mark him as the product of a specific place. Yet his choice of subject matter and theme just as often exceeds and undermines the regionalism to which he seems to subscribe.” His work often features Catholic iconography, musical influences, and the flora and fauna of South Louisiana.
The artist also 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. His small-scale collages 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.