See Great Art is based out of Fernandina Beach, FL. The Dusti Bongé Art Foundation in Biloxi, MS. Both places understand well the force of hurricanes. A Dusti Bongé hurricane painting is the subject of this week’s artwork in our partnership. Analysis, as always, comes from Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia M. Römer.
Dusti Bongé, September Storm, 1955, Oil on Masonite, 36” x 48”, Paul Bongé Collection
Living on the Gulf Coast or East Coast, every year starting in June we are all vigilantly watching weather reports as tropical storms form off the coast of West Africa and track their way across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean and into Gulf of Mexico or back toward the Atlantic.
Dusti Bongé, having grown up and lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast most of her long life, was no stranger to this annual seasonal rhythm. She lived through storms even before they were named: starting as early as in 1906 and 1916 when storms made landfall on the eastern edge of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Hurricane of 1947, Hurricane Ethel, 1960, Hurricane Betsy, 1965, Hurricane Camille, 1969, Hurricane Elena, 1985.
She also drew inspiration from them. As a true artist she found the beauty and mystery in all aspects of her environment and experience.
Just as in her early works she drew inspiration from her immediate surroundings, so in her abstract expressionist years, she often found a way to capture the unique qualities of the place through the experience of memorable yet ferocious events. In this work, her bold aggressive gestures capture the fierceness of the stormy skies and the sea. The color palette, with its emphasis on dark colors interspersed with bright jagged strokes, reveal an experience that cannot be described in words, a savage energy and beauty that can only be witnessed.
It is interesting to note that some of her early works captured places subsequently destroyed by the very hurricanes that inspired her years later.