The recurring imagery in Martin LaBorde’s work springs from deeply personal experiences. Born with a hearing defect, celebrated New Orleans artist Martin LaBorde spent the first twenty years of his life in a world of near total silence. As a result, his visual sense was heightened and he developed a rich inner life to compensate for that part of reality that had been denied to him. Early on his perception of reality embraced the mystical, the spiritual, and he became acutely attuned to an alternative reality.
The present work is infused with imagery that has its roots in a lifetime of hardship, experiences and spiritual quest. They are a map of his soul manifest in a little character called Bodo who revealed himself to the artist in 1973 after a life changing experience atop an ancient pyramid in Mexico. It was a seminal moment for the painter, and since then the whimsical and peaceful spirit of Bodo has guided his brush and his life.
LaBorde’s art has many meanings to his first time collectors as well as his seasoned collectors!
Bodo: The little character LaBorde paints has become his mouth piece for his life and how he feels and reacts to his daily life. Bodo is the child in all…but a child with the wisdom of life! Bodo represents a freedom and the breaking down of limitations. He is a child with an old soul’s spirit. The appeal is international as the meanings behind the paintings become a part of the collectors expressions in and of life! Bodo is a clothes horse and expresses himself in the many robes and hats he wears. Bodo symbolizes all that is good in the world and how we act and react to our daily lives. When LaBorde started painting his Bodo paintings he thought of how he expresses and deals with life and in many ways he related those feelings through his paintings.
The black background represents LaBorde’s silent world…he says we all have a silentness within us and sometimes we must go there.
The face of Bodo: The face of Bodo represents the dualities in life that each of us face everyday. The blue represents the spiritual side of life and the flesh colored side represents the human side of life. In LaBorde’s life it represents his struggle with the hearing world and the silent world. It is the happy and the sad sides of life, the good and the bad…the struggle verses the easy side of life….Everyone has dualities… it’s life, and you work with them….they are a part of you, and you are good.
The Moon: The moon is a familiar. It always returns in one way or the other…and it is a comfort knowing it is there. As a handicapped child growing up in the 50’s, LaBorde faced many children and adults that did not understand and accept his deafness… They thought he had a mental problem, they thought he was stupid… but he proudly says..”I knew I was smart, I just couldn’t hear or talk.” As a child, he would lie on the ground and look up at the moon…he said it always smiled at him, it always returned and that gave him comfort.
LaBorde’s art is whimsically different…even a little spiritual… get to know them,… discover the whimsical, and the dreamy, paintings in a happy and unassuming way! Trust you eyes and mind to interpret the works of Martin LaBorde. His paintings will speak to you and your heart. His paintings will make you smile,… theywill make you happy when you see them…and you will most likely wonder what is this all about…either way, we think you will ‘hear’ his message and become a Martin LaBorde collector!
The life of Martin LaBorde is a wonderful story of resiliency. LaBorde was born in a small rural community in central Louisiana. As a child he was tested many times to determine the disconnect in his life. He could not communicate verbally and because doctors were looking for other reasons, his hearing loss went undetected.
He loved and communicated with animals and they became his friends (they liked and accepted him) and that is the reason he puts animals in his paintings. Martin attended art school, and was recognized for his talent. Many years later he met the love of his life Zella. She was the one that took Martin to a specialist and it was determined that his ear canals, hammer, anvil and stirrup had never fully developed.