Francis Bacon // Blurry Portraits

I've always been interested in art and artists and regularly visit galleries and exhibitions. I was looking at books in the library the other day and came across a book called, "Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits". I was drawn to it because the portrait on the cover had this movement to it that made me think about the Gary Schneider work I've been looking at. I've since found even more portraits in this book that I like, and have researched the ideas behind Bacon's portraits to gather ideas from them that I can apply and take inspiration from for my own work. 

Three Studies For A Self Portrait 1979 - 80

"I loathe my own face... I've done a lot of self-portraits, really because people have been dying around me like flies and I've nobody else left to paint but myself."

Francis Bacon's paintings were inspired by surrealism and work by Picasso. His work is particularly emotive and raw, reflecting his resentful existence and the confusion and anxiety that filled his life. As you can see in the quote above, Bacon really despised his own appearance, and used his self portraiture to reflect the tragedy happening in his personal life. I think the use of movement that he has created with his brush strokes, is particularly powerful in reflecting his emotions of sadness, and feelings of loss and hopelessness.

The above triptych really stands out to me as a series of self portraits, as I find it really emotionally captivating, and personally it really makes me feel really hopeless and unable to help him in these clearly tragic circumstances, he appears to be suspended in. Which is shown through this particularly deep void of negative space, he has created with black paint around him. This tight framing of his face, where the top of his head goes past the top of the paper, gives this feeling of entrapment and restriction, which to me is a metaphor for not feeling like you can escape from your problems, especially when they are all circulating in your head all the time.

The way these three paintings have been put together, gives the impression of a camera panning around his face, which to me may be Bacon expressing his feelings of pain even further, by showing that these feelings follow him everywhere, and that he feels he has no where to turn. In terms of the movement here, I find it interesting that the use of movement is more used to distort his appearance, then shift his entire face, which I think is powerful in showing how something can make such an impact on you as a person psychologically and the way you project and carry yourself.

Looking at Bacon's portraits has inspired me to think more about how movement can be used in photography, and to think more about distortion and how that kind of movement in an image can be used to convey emotional meaning. 


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