Stanislaw Frenkiel Fine Art

The destruction of the mouth in Bacon’s painting...

can be interpreted as a symbol of rape, castration, and above all the twisted relationship between the central figure and his back-ground. A metaphor for broken communication.

Bacon began where others finished. From abstraction in applied art he moved towards painting in which he was never formally trained. At the beginning his style showed similarities with the thorny work of Graham Sutherland. For some time he lived in the shadow of others' fame. Considered as a painter of figurative grotesques - the exception proving the rule. But with the passage of time when he was tired of geometry and British artists began to feel nostalgic for the art of the Pre-Raphaelites, when more and more young people were returning to figurative art, the painting of Bacon began to suggest that all the possibilities of figurative painting had not been exhausted.

Is Bacon a great artist? Or is his work important merely as a psychological phenomenon, as a form of sensationalist art in a journalistic sense?
It’s not easy for his contemporaries today in 1967 to answer that question. It seems to me that his art has some basic inadequacies which conflict with his own assertions. For example – the brushstroke suggests a painterly, not graphic approach but the range of colour he uses is incidental, vulgar and automatic, at times purposely gaudy like a child’s collage. The unity of composition is broken. His themes, if one can talk here of themes, are the main source of sensationalism through endless allusions to bodily rape, decomposition and the painful delights of the divine Marquis De Sade.

In the romantic tradition there were always parallel currents. One, on the side of the fighting man at odds with the world, the Prometheus current sometimes tempered with the tragi-comedy of Don Quixotery. The second current – though similar in some external and superficial aspects, is that of Tantal where terrible punishments followed horrible crimes. Where humanity struggles in unending agony alone in deadly isolation and without a smile. . And though I am certain that the painting of Bacon has greater weight than purely decorative utterings, it seems to me that it does not reach the formal values which would help him outlast an era which promises popularity merely for the evocative atmosphere of a butcher’s stall or a Dublin ham on a toilet seat.