I was in the zone. That magic moment when you are deep within the work in front of you. I hadn’t expected that of Bacon. The Art Gallery of New South Wales luckily could fit the letters of his name nicely between the columns and I like that drama of a new exhibition. I love the crossing directly in front of the gallery and when I stepped out alone, no cars, no crowds and mounted the stairs I had that inkling it was to be wonderful.
I had done my homework: read a little, been to an Anthony Bond (director of International art AGNSW) talk weeks before, downloaded an app and was ready to take what Francis Bacon could dish up. Like Bacon when I first saw Muybridge’s work I felt compelled to work from his studies of the human form so going in, I wanted to see that connection.
I had just been to the APT7 in Brisbane and coming down from that artphoria and I wasn’t prepared to be scooped up once more. This time it was good old-fashioned use of paint and there was something Fred Williams-like in large flat expanses of pure thin colour and small slashes of sculptured coloured marks, in Bacon’s case fleshy pinks and whitish greys. His influence on Whiteley was blindingly obvious and I too became absorbed. I felt his fascination with Muybridge and Russian film the The Battleship Potemkin. But it was in Triptych 1987 where his intense brilliant orange ground captured the intensity of Frederico Lorca’s words in “Lament for Ignazio Sanchez Mejias” a matador’s death that gave a clue to depth and passion of his work.
When the bull ring was covered with iodine at five in the afternoon
Death laid eggs in the wound at five in the afternoon
A great exhibition and one that I have definitely learnt from. I feel the need to re-visit some of my earlier works on Muybridge and perhaps begin to introduce colour and scale and move on from the smaller studies of individual plates.