When in Paris, go for Bacon!

When in Paris this winter, do go for some Bacon!

New exhibition this winter

There is treasure trove of an exhibition at the iconic Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris through to mid-January, showcasing the very best of painter, Francis Bacon. Apparently, he was inspired by Nietzsche. And with all that blood dripping on his canvases, who can be surprised?

Stripped canvases

Francis Bacon’s stripped bodies (and near naked canvases) all point to an aesthetic I admire and love. The dimmed rooms, the anonymous spaces; the solitary hanging lightbulbs. There is a sense of anomie here. However, there’s also a strange seductive quality to these works, which in the George Dyer-pieces, provide a mirror to his tragic suicide.

George Dyer
A study of George Dyer – Bacon’s partner – who took his own life in 1971.

If you happen to be in Paris over the New Year period, do go. The exhibition reveals how Bacon might have been (contrary to any interpretations he favoured, if indeed he ever offered any interpretations at all), influenced by Nietzsche and Greek Tragedy. He was consumed with the explosive symbiosis of Apollo and Dionysus in Greek mythology, plus the push-pull of Eros and Thanatos. Who knows? But I am always drawn in by his screeching George Dyer-inspired triptychs.

You can normally view some of these at Tate Britain.

Love is the devil

Bacon body
Bacon was fascinated in the precarity of human existence

Earlier this year, I was pleased to see the Derek Jacobi and Daniel Craig-featured biopic, Love is the Devil. The film is based on the smoking and ultimately sickly, dynamic between Bacon and George Dyer.

This exhibition, like the film, depicts what a suffocating space Dyer inhabited. And how, in turn, this both exhausted but also hugely inspired Bacon with some of his work.

In 1971, Bacon was invited to Paris for a retrospective of his work at the Grand Palais. He was – as far as the film suggests, anyway – informed his younger partner had been found dead the night he was giving a speech on his work.

This contrast between life and death clearly runs as a current throughout all his work. And if this exhibition is anything to go by, Greek tragedy and good old Friedrich Nietzsche helped provide literary and philosophical expression to what he wanted to convey through his art.

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