As if a small boy climbing on the podium...
were to announce loudly for all the dignitaries to hear that everyone
knows that each of these grand and elevated individuals is hiding
a pink sticky secret in their crotch. There would be an embarrassed
Bacon’s painting there is a desire to shock by a display
like all puritans is obsessed with the carnal, with guts, meat
and flesh. The embarrassment is not related to the indecency of
the subject but to the engagement, the preoccupation of the artist
in the subject, a necessary condition for Bacon’s act of
outcome of this sexual investment is a direct vision which attacks
the viewer so intensely that one seems to be standing, not in
front of a picture but a living person.
figures of Bacon look alive even though they are quite impossible
in the form in which they are presented.
is Bacon’s style?
First Bacon paints from memory as many contemporary painters.
So he depends on a subjective vision and on his own self-criticism.
He begins with an undefined blot thrown or sprayed on the canvas.
Out of many such blots emerges the suggestion of a likeness which
the artist then draws out using white paint, giving the shape
a gloss like that of a wet body.
Bacon draws with white paint, like Rouault who drew with black.
In this he is not unlike Tintoretto and Rubens. However the hurriedly
scribbled figures are often smudged on purpose - sometimes covered
in seed husks.
The human figure is lonely, in barely furnished spaces, slumped,
and stretched out on a chaise longue, not nude but naked, undressed.
that’s missing is discarded, pungent underwear.
The absence of these things envelops this man in a funereal loneliness.
A woman on a bed. A body on a slab. In the Marlborough Gallery
people walked like in a crypt. They looked at the paintings like
at the venerable dead preserved behind glass.
as well as the bigger compositions are arranged in triptychs mostly
of Bacon’s various friends. They are en face like
the portrait of Richelieu by Philippe de Champagne, like wanted
And the face? In Paris, Bacon once bought a book about diseases
of the mouth and jaw with coloured illustrations of ravaged lips,
naked gums and gangrenous cheeks. The mouth is an organ of love
as well as speech – in both cases, of communication. The
destruction of the mouth in Bacon’s portraits severs the
figure’s communication with his environment.
It cuts the umbilical cord linking an individual with society.
And at the same time, for those in a sexual ghetto, the mouth
is the flip side of the coin. It is the tail where the head is
the rectum. The alimentary tract is the axle of love, with its
two magnetic poles of dreams.