Fabric played an important role in Bourgeois’s life. She grew up surrounded by the textiles of her parents’ tapestry restoration workshop, and from the age of twelve helped the business by drawing in the sections of the missing parts that were to be repaired. A life-long hoarder of clothes and household items such as tablecloths, napkins and bed linen, from the mid-nineties Bourgeois cut up and re-stitched these, transforming her lived materials into art. Through sewing she attempted to effect psychological repair: ‘I always had the fear of being separated and abandoned. The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole’.
The fabric drawings are abstract and heterogeneous, deriving their formal logic from the juxtapositions of patterns printed on their materials and the artist’s long-standing motifs. Over a six-year period their designs evolved, exploring more intricate geometries and increasingly incorporating collaged elements. Stripy and chequered drawings that Bourgeois began making in 2002 weave thin strips of her garments together, bending the modernist grid. Later works adopt polygonal structures, stitching the fabrics so that the patterns form concentric circles and spirals similar to spider webs and the vibrant mirrorings of a kaleidoscope. Rather than being minimalist, these morphing geometries are supple and embracive, softly corporeal. text from Hauser & Worth