Francis Bacon has haunted me for 4 years. Ever since the retrospective at the Tate Britain, the screaming face of the Pope Innocent series is an image I haven’t been able to shake.
Thankfully, the current exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW provided an opportunity to lay my demons to rest and examine his work a little more closely.
Bacon paints with both an extreme urgency and the calm pre-meditation of a man who knows exactly what he wants the forensics team to find, once they have looked hard enough. His images are confronting, portraying a man caged by illness, religion or sexuality, desperate to express themselves in a world filled with barriers. All this at a time, when people were still reeling from the horrors of World War II.
What I find truly interesting about his paintings is that to see the whole picture, you must get up close and personal with it. Asking, what details has he hidden? What has he shown? What does that tell me?
For his studies based on Van Gogh or Velazquez, the deeper emotions in his works became more obvious by comparing them to the original. For instance, Bacon’s ‘Painter on the road to Tarascon’ is an artist in shadow on a boldly coloured road. But the second I held the Van Gogh original next to it – an image full of hope, life and happiness – the story changed. The artist I now saw in front of me was lost, depressed and struggling to find himself in a world of colour.
I find Bacon’s work always has a darker side to it, even when he moved to bold colours and matured brush strokes, there is always something below the surface. That surface is confronting but if you look for the details you will find a deeper truth, and only then, does true beauty emerge.
Vision Board Themes: looking deeper, details, comparison, confronting, truth, haunting