One of the highlights of the exhibition “Untie a Torment”, which will be open to the public until 20 June is “Maman”, a steel and bronze spider with legs about 10 metres long. “Maman” is one of the “most representative” works of the artist’s career and perhaps “the most emblematic” of her “famous spiders”, according to a statement from the museum.

According to the co-organiser of the exhibition Paula Fernandes, the steel and bronze spider, with eight legs, carries in her abdomen a “bag with 20 eggs in marble” and is an “ode to her mother”, who considered her best friend and who was a weaver. The work, which can be seen in the central ‘parterre’ of Serralves Park, is a kind of “metaphor of repair”, because it weaves its ceiling and repairs it when damaged. “Just as the spider protects its eggs that carries the abdomen, a mother has to protect her children,” explains the press release, noting that Louise Bourgeois saw the spider as a “self-portrait”, which builds its own architecture from its body, just as it created sculptures from its psychological interior. The exhibition is curated by Glenstone museum director Emily Wei Rales and has a total of 32 works, including sculptures, textiles, drawings, books and architectural installations.

Louise Bourgeois - Spiderwoman

One of the facilities that the director of the Serralves Museum, Philippe Vergne, highlighted, was “The Destruction of the Father”, 1974. The work, where a cave is inhabited by round forms of latex molded and dipped in red light, is considered the “first installation” of Louise Bourgeois and addresses “cannibalism”, a reincidental theme in the artist’s work, says Philipe Vergne. “The scene depicts the result of a childhood fantasy, in which Bourgeois, with the help of his mother and siblings, takes revenge on his adulterous and tyrant father, butchering him and devouring him at the table at dinner,” the press release explains, referring to the artist feeling “often betrayed and abandoned by him,” giving rise to “deep anger against his father and oppressive patriarchy in its multiple forms.”

The exhibition “Louise Bourgeois – Untangle a Torment” reveals traumatic experiences and events of the artist’s childhood, such as sexuality, the body, death and the unconscious, but although autobiographical, Bourgeois’s work is also capable of “transmitting universal emotions and the vulnerability of our daily lives”, describes the museum, referring that feelings such as “failure”, “fears”, “envy” or “oppression”, find in their works a “physical form”. The exhibition was organized by the Serralves Foundation and the Glenstone Museum in the United States, in collaboration with The Easton Foundation, and co-produced with the Voorlinden Museum & Gardens in the Netherlands.