How else could I begin this blog post but with the despicable Mr. Francis Bacon himself.
A man infatuated with the grotesque's manifestation in the human mystique. An artist who seeks to transmogrify what others wish to glorify. His paintings tend to depict subjects, whether human or inanimate, that are distorted, psychological and challenged by space. Here you see his painting entitled Seated Figure, 1961 post World War II. In typical Bacon fashion his face and body are mutilated in a way that makes for disproportionate spacing. It's almost though the figure is uncomfortably cramped in an otherwise empty room, trapped in a perfect psychosis: the flawless white box painted around him. What a statement! While the room is technically empty, the figure is not; evoking within you a reaction of claustrophobia and unrest. Francis Bacon has undoubtedly changed my life. I became infatuated with his works when I stumbled across Study for Portrait II (after the Life Mask of William Blake), 1955, during my senior year of high school (my favourite painting to date). He portrays the disturbia of the mind in ways that I could never put into words. I look forward to viewing more of his work in the flesh at the Tate Britain- perhaps when I'm more ready to take a photo...(sigh of defeat).
Another surrealist phenomenon is Dorothea Tanning, whose post-war piece entitled Some Roses and Their Phantoms, 1952, hung on the opposite wall from Bacon's work. Looking at this painting, you can immediately appreciate the technicality and immense detail of every petal of the roses and every crease of the white cloth. I've always imagined that Tanning and Dali must've had a common relative, or should've procreated, because their creations pour
directly from their convoluted imaginations onto the canvas with a curious and breathtaking magnitude. Tanning's pieces simply invite you aboard a ship that takes you deep into her dark and mysterious hallucinations. What I appreciated about this piece was its contrast of the complete and the incomplete. Comparing the roses, you can see how one of the roses is still unfinished and white, meant to blend with the base. Further, all of the roses are different sizes and at different stages of maturation. The title, Some Roses and Their Phantoms, suggests a theme of life and death as being coexistent, eternal and haunting. I got a poor photo of this painting because there were hundreds of people clogging the arteries of the Tate Modern on the Sunday that I went. Incredible piece to see in person!
- Casey Hands