And now for something completely different. Louise LeBourgeois's work, currently on view at Dolby Chadwick Gallery, is light, airy, and serene. LeBourgeois's meditation on water is minimal landscape—well, seascape—at its best.
Each of the eight pieces from LeBourgeois's water series are created from the same, basic format: the deceptively calm, flat expanse of sea, the deep blue sky, the clouds. These are seascapes stripped down to their bare elements to such an extreme that the spacial context begins to lose meaning as forms fade into the abstract.
What emerges is an impression of form and texture, of line and movement. Crests and valleys etched into the water's surface suggest the roll of mountain peaks and valleys as much as the motion of the sea; and yet, the scene feels frozen in space and time, like a memory. The air and sea feel caught in a fragile otherworld between now and then, and gently sways back and forth in the mind. Serenity and meditation gradually give way to a sense of loss and longing. As quickly as an impression forms it begins to fade again, remaining just beyond reach.
LeBourgeois's work has a hint of the surreal in it, a dream-like haze pervading each scene. Most suggestive is Sugar Kettle #370, in which a bowl floats suspended over the sea, a thick column of sugar rising above it. The bowl appears frozen mid-fall, the scene captured in the moment just before impact. The motion of the bowl is only inferred, however; like the seascapes, the bowl seems inextricably fixed in time.
(*Images, from top to bottom: Louise LeBourgeois, Water #312, 2004, oil on panel, 14 x 16", courtesy of the artist and Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco. Louise LeBourgeois, Water #327, 2005, oil on panel, 12 x 14", courtesy of the artist and Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco. Louise LeBourgeois, Sugar Kettle #370, 2008, oil on panel, 10 x 10", courtesy of the artist and Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco.)