03 December 2008

The Human Condition

Yesterday, we went to see the Francis Bacon show at the Tate. There were two major distractions; first, they had lit the paintings really badly, and the glare on the glass was so bad that it was a struggle to see the images and not just the reflections of what was going on in the rest of the gallery. The other distraction was this: you know how in a lot of Bacon's paintings there is a kind of stripey background of greys, blacks and browns? I kept looking at that and thinking, "oh, that's how my Noro silk garden skeins which have grey, black and brown in them are going to knit up!"

But the paintings that were well lit were very affective (and I mean "affective," not "effective") - the crucifixion images, for example. People go on and on about the violence in Bacon's images, but from what little I know of him and his work, my impression is that the violence (carcasses, cuts of meat, screaming people) is more a voicing of his helplessness in the face of human frailty.

I walked out feeling inordinately sad.


Anonymous said...

I was at the vatican recently, and was amazed to see a Bacon 'pope' painting on a wall, with no glass, and no attendants anywhere. It was extraordinary to be able to study it as closely as I wanted, for as long as I wanted with nothing but a bit of air between me and it.

Hoxton said...

Frustrating when paintings aren't displayed well, but sounds like a powerful exhibition. I keep meaning to get down and see it before it closes!