Louise Bonnet:
Grotesque Beauty

Lousie Bonnet makes paintings that explore what it truly means to be human in all its awkward, visceral reality.

FEATURE by Alison Kubler FEBRUARY 2020

Swiss-born, Los Angeles-based figurative painter Louise Bonnet has cool cachet in spades and a résumé to match. Bonnet moved to LA after graduating from art school, but her rise to contemporary ‘It’ artist, with a waitlist of art collectors, was a bumpy transition.

Bonnet first worked as a graphic designer for brands XLarge and X-girl, the ultra-cool Kim Gordon streetwear brand, which is where she met her husband, ceramicist Adam Silverman. Surprisingly, he fired her from that role – but she says her heart wasn’t into designing endless street looks. In 2008 street artist Shepard Fairey, a friend from her designing days, gave Bonnet her first exhibition at his Echo Park gallery Subliminal Projects. Those acrylic-on-paper drawings were drawn from the familiar Hollywood lexicon of characters from The Shining, The Graduate and Carrie, among others.

They set the tone for her subsequent work with their spatial flatness; when Bonnet moved from acrylic to oil her work shifted in subject and style again. She has developed her own recognisable aesthetic language, which might be described as George Condo meets Robert Crumb meets Philip Guston – but with a distinctly feminist twist, uniquely her own. Bonnet’s ‘figures’ are a monstrous hybrid; they toy with the ‘monstrous feminine’. They are inhumanly human – all distended hands, bulbous shapes and awkward bulges. What informs this deformation? What is this tension between the beautiful and the ugly?

“I am not really overly concerned whether the figures are beautiful or ugly. . .. Subscribe to read this article in full


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QAGOMA Metro Bendigo Art Gallery ACCA MelbourneArt Gallery of New South WalesMuseum of Brisbane