Sunday, November 16, 2008

Francis Bacon

Yesterday I had the opportunity to see a collection of Francis Bacon’s artworks in an ongoing exhibition at the Tate Britain. The exhibition had a fairly big body of work that successfully represented the stormy life that Bacon fleshed on most of his canvases. Huge canvases representing the apathy and sorrowful existence of humanity had me successfully suffocated and tired. But within the representation of human existence as “raw material for carcases”, one can’t negate the fact that there was some odd sense of beauty that made people stare at it longer, trying to see details of deformation carefully collaged and constructed from (little known) photographic archive that Bacon had in his studio.

Of all the art works the two series of triptychs by the name Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, first done in 1944 and the next done in 1988 were particularly striking to me. They allowed for a certain sense of dualism within repulsion and horror. The three figures (based on the Eumenides—or Furies—in Aeschylus’ Oresteia) are deformed, anthropomorphic creatures with hanging flesh, skinless muscles that sit on platforms and stools as they bare teeth at the observer.

In the first instance the three images come across as creatures filled with rabid rage waiting to tear away from their orange and red environments, but as one observes them for longer the creatures also seem to be writhing in pain, as if being ordered and twisted and contorted to fit within environments and act out a circus before visitors of the art gallery. This feeling of simultaneous fear and pity that the triptych provokes within the observer seemed to be much more valuable to me than some of his other works. Within these two series both being more or less identical I liked the later one but couldn’t help thinking, if it was my architectural education that naively demands a certain aesthetic of colour combination, proportions, finish and frame style.