Dusti Bongé sketch pairing

More sketches from Dusti Bongé to enjoy. These, with a surrealistic bent.

Analysis of the artwork comes from Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia Römer.

Dusti Bongé, United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company Yearbook – August 9 and August 11, c. 1940, charcoal on paper, 8” x 5 ½”

This week we have two sketches that are clearly a pair and also most unusual. They are from one of Dusti Bongé’s early datebooks containing numerous pencil and charcoal drawings depicting scenes in Biloxi: shells, still lives of vegetables, etc.

Yet amongst these everyday observations there are a few times throughout the book where Dusti all of a sudden would draw, on several pages in succession, sketches with a much more surrealist quality. They show that Dusti started exploring surrealism quite early on in her career.

Among those surrealist interludes we have these two portrayals of a person, one presented frontally and the other in profile, that definitely stand out. They have a unique graphic, indeed almost pictographic, quality. In both cases the figure is curled up in a semi-fetal position, with knees pulled up and arms wrapped around one another and protecting her tucked in head. The fetal position is of course an instinctual way to protect oneself, and especially when one is stressed, it provides emotional comfort.

Dusti Bongé, United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company Yearbook - August 11, c. 1940, charcoal on paper, 8” x 5 ½”.
Dusti Bongé, United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company Yearbook – August 11, c. 1940, charcoal on paper, 8” x 5 ½”. Image courtesy Dusti Bongé Art Foundation.

Interestingly, although the curled-up posture of the bodies is inherently a gentle one, the forms themselves are drawn with thick, dark pencil marks in an angular style, which contradicts that gentleness. These stark bodily outlines are surrounded by slightly lighter swirling marks, stripes and stippling in the background.

On the one hand these lighter marks appear to offer a softer quality enveloping the figure, yet their various patterns may also be the very many forces intruding on the figures from all sides, causing them to retreat.

Perhaps Dusti’s subconscious need for comfort and protection, after having lost her husband and facing life’s many challenges on her own, is being expressed in these two sketches.

No Comments Yet.