Après le Bain
41" x 54" oil on canvas 2005
Currently on view at the Sarah Bain Gallery in Brea, California is a new collection of paintings by Gerard Bourgeois. These seemingly Degas inspired images of a woman at the bath are rich in painterly nuance accomplished by a rigorous process of painting, readjusting, overpainting, sanding, scraping down and finishing. Like a frescoed wall eroded over time, the images in Gerard's paintings emerge from the accumulation of paint. The history of the painting, with its ghosts and pentimenti, is the painting.
Gerard's work is extremely sophisticated, notice the nuances of hip and shoulder, yet these paintings ring true emotionally. Based on intimate moments with his wife, the paintings in this exhibition are not mere exercises involving painter and model, but instead portray an intimacy normally found in the cinema.
Gerard was raised in the South Pacific on the island of Vanuatu. Like a reverse Gauguin, Gerard left the color and light of the islands for the tans and grays of modern urbanity - first, to Australia and eventually to California. In this new body of work, Gerard seems to have found his voice, distilling the experiences of his background and travels into paintings that move beyond initial impulses into something deeper, more profound and mysterious.