Sunday, June 19, 2011

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon, Study for Head of George Dyer, 1967
I recall reading an article a couple of years back during the time of the big traveling Francis Bacon retrospective.  In it, a bunch of art stars were invited to comment on how Francis Bacon influenced their work.  I was really quite dismayed at one contemporary figurative artist, who paints distorted figures in variety of intense colors, who saw no connection between at all between Bacon's work and her own.   She never really looked at Francis Bacon.  While is certainty within the realm of possibility that a contemporary artist can be ignorant of such a big twentieth century figure, I don't think that anyone working with the figure today hasn't been touched by his influence, either subconsciously, or through second or even third generation sources.  Influence travels freely across the history of figuration, and Bacon quoted freely by many contemporary artists. Yet the issue at hand is why do I like Bacon's paintings?

Many of Bacon's paintings are horrific.   They have this tremendous, dark, looming presence.   While some may not go for his imagery, every painter should seriously consider and respect artwork that can evoke something from the viewer.  While I may not aim for overt horror in my own work, I do strive to create a sense of presence, and this phenomena is difficult to describe without sounding a little kooky.  For some, figures seem alive, but even non-image abstractions can facilitate a sensation of their being through color or scale.   The painting becomes a physical encounter with the viewer that cannot be simply translated as an image; you have to be there. In the capacity of experience, Bacon continues to act as justification for making singular, private, work in digital age.    

Official Site of the State of Francis Bacon

Bacon Wikipedia Article

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