Francis Giacobetti, Francis Bacon portraits & last interview

Looking up some quotes from Bacon, I came across the following interesting and inspiring words:

“The feeling of desperation and unhappiness are more useful to an artist than the feeling of contentment, because desperation and unhappiness stretch your whole sensibility.” (Francis Bacon) I think this is so true, and have always maintained that to create a piece of art, a piece of the artist must of necessity suffer, perhaps even die. I never photograph on a full stomach – hunger hones the quest for creating images, actually helps me to see better.

“The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.” (Francis Bacon) in this I’d say that Bacon is similar to d’Agata – technical considerations go out the window, since we are confronted with human emotions laid bare.

“All painting is an accident. But it’s also not an accident, because one must select what part of the accident one chooses to preserve.” (Francis Bacon) This is surely the skill of any visual artist.

Interestingly enough in this search I came across the work of Giacobetti, a Corsican photographer who had the pleasure of meeting Bacon, making a series of portraits and conducting what was to become the artist’s final interview. Giacobetti’s use of colour, lighting and chiaroscuro are really well handled in this first image (a triptych in the style of Bacon, where the artist is pictured together with a joint of meat hanging from a meat hook). The photographer has managed to capture the essence of the artist through the content, lighting and composition.

Another triptych from the same series that shows Bacon almost as photographic equivalent of his sitters; again the photographer has made subtle reference to the artist’s work and captured its essence photographically. The final interview itself contains some insights into Bacon, his childhood and sexuality, and most of all his vanity and egoism:

“…your work is you. It’s you who sells yourself: your talent, your instinct, your techniques. There are thousands of painters, but very few are the chosen ones. Even if one defends oneself, one still always wants to leave something that will enter the history of art. That is vanity, the driving force of artists. Artists are very vain. We always think we are making the painting that will revolutionise all painting, and that’s why we keep going. You never retire from being vain.”

I think the same can be said for most people who create something – artists, photographers, writers; the dream of creating something so original and innovative that it will go down in the annals of art. This is sio true!

Then later on he said something that struck a chord with me:

“We are all prisoners, we are all prisoners of love, one’s family, one’s childhood, profession. Man’s universe is the opposite of freedom, and the older we get, the more this becomes true. I am a desperate optimist. Optimist, because I live from day to day as if I am never going to die. Desperate because I don’t have a very high opinion of the human being and of me in particular.”

This is exactly how I feel – a mixture of optimism and pessimism, and a complete disdain for humanity.


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