Saturday, February 7, 2009

I ♥ Bacon: A Slogan from Yesteryear Revisited

No, the title does not imply that I have thrown in the towel after years of vegetarianism. The smell of bubbling pig fat still makes me vacate the premises. I'm talking about that messy Irish bloke, Francis Bacon.

The Francis Bacon exhibition opened at the Nacional Museo del Prado this week. I went to see the show on the second day it opened. I anticipated that there would be die-hards waiting in line to get in, but there wasn't. I think the rain scared them away. The exhibit was on both the first and second floors. This show is meant to commemorate the artist's birth in 1909 (whoa!). Included in the show are 62 paintings and archival objects from his studio such as source material and sketches. An ace show. The Three Studies for a Cruxifixion triptych is marvelous. Go see it if you are in Madrid. It's up until April 19th, 2009.

Bacon was one of my favourite artists when I was in my early teens. He was another painter that my Dad introduced me to. I forgot how much Bacon influenced me as a young person, until I got reacquainted with his paintings the other day. I haven't seen many Bacons in the flesh and I was really astounded by how they made me feel. The thick encrustation of the painted surface, the vibrancy of viscera, faces lacerated with sweeping gestures, periodic dollops of titanium white... such a treat. A weird nostalgic feeling enveloped me as well as a sense of closure that only occurs through physical encounters with well-known cultural artifacts. Man, I felt like I was transported through this nutzoid time portal; the good type of flashback though. The type that helps you understand the inherent nature of self, despite all the brainwashing (aka art school) that may have occurred between now and then. I learned that I am still an angry and morbid atheist despite my all-accepting demeanor. It's all a façade folks! Thanks for clearing things up for me, Mr. Bacon.

In grade 9 art class we had an assignment where we had to turn an existing artwork into an ad. I guess it was supposed to be an inventive means of getting teenagers to better understand how to appreciate the hand of another artist via mimicry. I chose Bacon's Second Version of Painting 1946 and added text that read something like, "Francis Bacon's Artificial Bacon Bits". I considered it mildly funny, but in retrospect I think most people felt that it confirmed my penchant for being rather messed up. There has been little development in this aspect of my life.

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