Don't call them 'the fittest'. Those, who survive are the destructors of others. Or at least that was my revelation when seeing Francis Bacon: Man and Beast exhibition.
Another revelation was that Bacon is probably The Painter of the 20th Century. Or at least now, when under the impression of this dramatic exhibition, this is what I think. He certainly isn't my favourite artist, but he might well be the best painter of the last hundred years.
I was expecting many things but was caught by surprise by Bacon’s mastery of colour and its plasticity. Baffled my mind runs between Renoir and Rothko, but doesn't find anyone getting even close to Bacon. And certainly none is more multi-layered than Bacon. Often has been said that Bacon avoided narrative painting like in “From the 1960s the large-scale triptych became increasingly important to bacon, enabling complex compositions with multiple figures that could address major themes, whilst avoiding a narrative scene that would fall into the trap of ‘illustration’”. Yet, Bacon’s paintings are narrative, it’s only that his narration is not linear. From the Crucifixion to The Bullfight all is narration. Wonderfully complex narration.
Bacon’s uniqueness is in that: while the viewer's brain is paralysed by a narrative cynic to cruelty; the viewer's heart is enchanted by the lust for life pouring from Bacon's bright, sparkling colours straight into the viewer's itchy eyes. Even the Mastiff’s canvas is glittered, like sparkled with golden sand.
"Bacon was convinced that there is an area of the nervous system to which the texture of paint communicates more violently than anything else".
Indeed. Indeed. This vibrant white line on an abys-deep blue background, next to the grey-brown, penetrating through my eyes, sets my heart in such ecstatic joy that my split brain half-watching Lacy’s coiled figure on a white pillow and half-observing my singing, joyous heart doesn't know whether this is a sad or happy painting and whether to laugh or to cry. I haven't seen anything like it. The gloss, the shininess of the colour, the form, the movement, the story...
The product is such that I immediately forgive Bacon for the two devoured lovers*
*Specie - Bacon's Lover. Life expectancy : 10 years.
Just as I have long forgiven Eric Gill his trespasses. Only Picasso remains to keep Rodin company in my gallery: Your sins outweigh your merits. Is he forgiven because his victims were male? Possibly, but not certainly.
Francis Bacon : Huge. Gigantic. Colossal. At the Royal Academy until 17 April
Ladies don't forget your sticks or long umbrellas when heading the Man and Beast exhibition; for you'll see a massive amount of men standing straight in the middle of the paintings and so close as if expecting to receive personal instructions from the toothful mouths, so that you'll have to pocket them to move aside.
This exhibition is so big that only lunch at the Ritz can go with it.
PS. 24 hours later I can conclude: Francis Bacon is not my favourite painter, he is simply the Renoir of my 50s, just like Celine is the Proust of my 30s. Or something of the sort.