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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Francis Bacon: Almost a religious painter

Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence was a 'unique, compelling film,' where those who knew him spoke freely, some for the first time, to reveal the many mysteries of Francis Bacon.

'Artist and friend Maggie Hambling suggested that “his work can be seen as a search for God,” while art critic John Richardson reckoned that Bacon is now seen “almost as a religious painter”.'

Gillean Craig explored this theme further in his Church Times review:

'“ALMOST a religious painter” might seem the most unlikely trib­ute to pay to the subject of Francis Bacon: A brush with violence (BBC2, Saturday), given his deliberate im­­mer­sion in a world of excess, his drinking, his promiscuity, his eagerness to inflict pain and (even more keenly) have it inflicted upon him­, and his production of picture after picture that, instead of hiding such proclivities, displayed them to the public as open wounds; and yet, shockingly, I think that it is true.

The images are flayed and vis­ceral, but their agony is that of a shriek de profundis. Not only is this a legitimate religious position: he was also drawn again and again to explicitly religious subjects: the scream­ing popes and the creatures at the foot of the cross, which can be, and were, dismissed as wilful expressions of hatred for Christianity.

But it makes more sense to see this continual return to Christian imagery as a profound engagement with, and deconstruction of, the impulse to faith which comes not from inside ourselves but is rather a response to the God who will not let us go.

Bacon brings us face to face with the hard stuff of Christianity: incarnation, flesh and blood naked on the canvas, sacrifice, mystery. This fine documentary told Bacon’s story through personal remin­iscences, a life scarcely believ­able in its combination of sordid, criminal depths and extraordinary creativity.'

Crucifixions: Francis Bacon will be at St Stephen Walbrook from 6-31 March 2017, 10.00am – 4.00pm Mon – Fri (Weds, 11.00am – 3.00pm), 


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