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To be Creative, Nourish Loneliness: Louise Bourgeois' Notes


Loneliness is one of the proven muses in the creative history of humankind.

There are different kinds of loneliness, some healthier than others. For the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, the best solitude is that which provides a benign forgetfulness of the body, and which takes care of itself. It’s a fertile loneliness, and a productive solitude; one in which appears that which could never have been anticipated and that which is linked to the quality of one’s attention.

Many other intellectuals and artists have taken an interest in the subject of solitude as an engine of genuine happiness. Meditation is but one of their tools for exploration.

The French painter, Eugène Delacroix, nourished his time alone before putting brush to canvas. “Feed yourself with great and austere ideas of beauty that nourish the soul … look for solitude,” he wrote.

Being an artist means nurturing solitude. Give the spirit the necessary tasks to bring it to its fruition. “The best things happen when you’re alone,” said the minimalist painter, Agnes Martin.

But loneliness was considered truly vital by the French sculptor, Louise Bourgeois. Throughout a collection of notes and letters she exchanged with the most ferocious minds and brightest spirits of the past century, Bourgeois managed to capture and explore the essence of a fertile solitude, one which allows for an inner life in which is found the raw material of all art forms.

“Every day you have to abandon your past or accept it and then, if you cannot accept it, you become a sculptor,” Bourgeois concluded in the book Louise Bourgeois Destruction of the Father / Reconstruction of the Father: Writings and Interviews, 1923-1997.

The sculptor’s writings and commentary on art confirm the deep links between her work and her life, with new discoveries in her creative process, and among them, the importance of loneliness.

Solitude, a rest from responsibilities, and peace of mind, will do you more good than the atmosphere of the studio and the conversations which, generally speaking, are a waste of time.

Like a “zero,” a circle is the mental emblem of the All. It is Nothing or a One without a second. The abstract par excellence, it’s a cause without the cause of any numerical and geometric series. It’s the figure which, for Bourgeois, represented her fertile land.

You are born alone. You die alone. The value of the space in between is trust and love. That is why geometrically speaking the circle is a one. Everything comes to you from the other. You have to be able to reach the other. If not, you are alone.



 Author: Teresa López

Image: Eric Parker – flick

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