Why Francis Bacon Still Matters


My love for Francis Bacon was ignited in 2010 when I visited the Hugh Lane Gallery with my art class from school. Seeing his paintings opened up another realm for me. Margaret Thatcher once referred to him as “that man who paints those dreadful pictures”. He made many beautiful things grotesque. And I love the grotesque.

I fell in love with Francis Bacon mainly because of his focus on the unkempt  in his work. This disorder is reflected in his studio, which has been recreated exactly in the Hugh Lane Gallery. The artist once said:

“I believe in deeply ordered chaos.”

Bacon releases very twisted emotions in his work, especially in his triptychs. The artist unveils humankind’s most disturbing passions in his work. His triptychs particularly intrigue me. Bacon distorts and transforms the bodies of his subjects to make them animalistic and primitive. He reiterates to us that our natural desires are sexual. He draws special attention to our primal desires in Two Figures, Three Studies For A Crucifixion and Triptych inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem “Sweeney Agonistes”There is also evidence of Bacon’s fascination with voyeurism. Bacon was not afraid to confront our obsession with observing others. Whether it’s porn or just simply admiring a beautiful person on the street, we cannot help to watch other people. We cannot help but to desire people. We help being transfixed by the appearance and form of others.

The triptychs are haunting sagas. They say that a picture says a thousand words. Bacon’s work’s are a book of tales from the very beginning of time. No other artist has put so much emotion into their work in my opinion. He made fresh, raw art that will preserved for decades.

My favourite piece by Francis Bacon has to be Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent XThe figure of the Pope is screaming, however, he cannot be heard. He is shrouded by dark clothes. The scene is almost as if the Pope is being held in captivity. To me, Bacon is exploring the issue of freedom of speech. The Pope, according to the Catholic faith, is God’s representative on earth. His duty is to speak God’s word. But he is a human being, and human beings are entitled to free speech. So what happens now?

Often we find ourselves speaking the words of others rather than speaking our minds. We trap ourselves into a never-ending cycle of conformity to “fit in” and fulfill our duties as socially acceptable people. The dark colours of this painting reflect the bleakness of normality and the horrid feeling of being the same as everyone else. We must all remove the drapes we are born under, to free ourselves from a boring life, and get our hands dirty.

“Ideas always acquire appearance veils, the attitudes that people acquire of their time and earlier time. Really good artists tear down those veils. “

Francis Bacon wasn’t afraid to shock. Francis Bacon wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. Francis Bacon was, is and always will be a hero.

Find more on Francis Bacon here.


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