Among the long list of talents of British artist Francis Bacon was his ability to explore subjects such as disembodied portraits, mangled, animal carcass-like bodies, screaming figures, crucifixions and popes in a way that is both beautiful and haunting, seductive and repulsive. Bacon’s work is heralded for his successful use of figuration to communicate the deepest, darkest human emotions.

Bacon was an Irish born British figurative painter who first moved to London in 1926 and later settled into his studio in South Kensington which has been transported in its entirety to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. His studio was cluttered with endless piles of books, paints, empty bottles and other detritus while the walls have splotches of paint reminiscent of a paint palette. The chaos of his studio is perhaps reflective of the artist himself, a reckless gambler and drinker who was exiled by his father at a young age for being homosexual. Throughout his career, Bacon was ruthless self-editor, a habit that began following his first solo exhibition in the basement of a friend’s house. After receiving an overwhelmingly negative response, Bacon destroyed all of his exhibited works.

Aided by the use of electrifying brushwork and rich colour while also drawing inspiration from masters like Michelangelo, Diego Velazquez, Edgar Degas and Vincent Van Gogh, Bacon brought to life highly shocking subject matter. Bacon translated these emotions and intensity into the expressive, graphic and raw imagery of his paintings and prints which carry a raw sense of anxiety and alienation.

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Francis Bacon

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