Tag Archives: teaching

A seminar with Francis Bacon …

Well – he has never taught art to others officially, and has never been taught art by others in such a manner

And while not being entirely sure, if just because or despite of that  – Francis Bacon excels as an art (painting) tutor. I found him so lucidly articulated, so continuously and deeply inspiring in his views on the artistic practice that I just couldn’t help not to present his ‘tutorials’ in a customized, yet systematic way.

Bacon took with him his mystery of how to talk about highly complex and irrational matters in an analytical and engaging manner.  And this very ability of his redeems his work, which could otherwise be easily classified as a tormented expression of an idiot-savant. Being himself deeply anti-theoretical he offers an impressive theory of his own oeuvre. With a certain force of authority, though never deliberately,  he shows that an artist’s journey is (should be) a continuous interplay between both challenges: ‘making images’ and making sense of them…

All points below are taken from interviews Bacon gave to D. Sylvester and while taking part in a documentary devoted to his work. They are extracts of the artist’s more elaborated statements. To access the original talks get a book and watch the movie (links below).

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You have to decide, that you are not going to be afraid of making a fool of yourself.

One needs to find his subject – otherwise one will be tempted to escape into a decoration. Most of the problems of the painting now result from the fact that painters don’t know what to paint – they are short of images.

The better the techniques of recording the reality become – the more inventive the painter needs to be in his ways to lock reality into something completely arbitrary. Going back to figuration in a more accepted sense is weak and meaningless.

The image – its power and integrity matters more than the beauty of paint.

Narration speaks louder than paint – avoid telling stories, unless you want to.

Aim at a highly disciplined work, even though the methods of pursuing it need to be ever- experimental and deeply instinctive. To make an image one has to control it.

Use secondary imaginary as a compost which will breed you images.

Painting (if successful) is a process of unlocking sensations and feelings on as many levels and as acutely as possible.

Painting is a ongoing interplay of luck/hazard, instinct and one’s critical sense.

Your technique needs to be as subjective and unique as your sensibility is.

‘Fresh’ image is the one which has a ‘foam of the unconscious’ still locked around it…

Make your forms memorable – otherwise they will exist only as ‘blobs’ on a wall…

A chance is more important than a conscious intellect because I made images that intellect would never make.

If you going to capture something REALLY REAL – it will be painful…

The most important thing for a painter is – to paint – nothing more…


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D. Sylvester, ‘Interviews with Francis Bacon: The Brutality of fact’, Thames and Hudson

Francis Bacon Documentary’

Here: preview of a new exhibition of Bacon in Dublin: ‘Terrible Beauty’

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Whilt – what have I learned today? (1)

What have I learned today (Whilt) – my new series I hope to use to record my day to day discoveries. These maybe as little as learning a new word in a different language and as extraordinary as … discovering a new law of physics (why not, after all?). In a sense it’s a self-disciplinary tool to keep me going (hope you too) on my way with an always-open, searching and questioning mind and spirit. Always on a move – who stops in a one place, goes backwards; feeling the times and spaces of ‘here and now’ – answering to their needs/challenges; and the self-education  – because ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ (Socrates) – this is, what it all is about… Join me, if you wish, share your daily Eureka-s…

Francis Bacon (Sir. – a writer and a philosopher, not the painter) was born in London in 1561.

– He was an excellent solicitor and a statesman, 1613 – became attorney general, 1618 – Lord Chancellor, dies 1626.

– His (called ‘Baconian‘ or ‘scientific’) method of reasoning (developing of philosophy) is characterized by an induction (going from particular instances to general laws) and by an internal struggle with preconceived ideas – his famous Idols. Idols are of four types and are a major obstruction in an objective/innovatory reasoning. These are Idols of: Tribe (humans’ tendency to perceive more order in systems that there truly is), Cave (thinking out of our biased , personal ‘cave’ – our personality/likes/dislikes), Marketplace (I don’t get the meaning of the name here, but it has something to do with the weakness of the language – with the protean nature of words/expressions), Theater (thinking along frames and grids of other philosophical systems, even when they don’t suit the concept/problem). See more his works here.

– he wrote also a set of comparatively lightweight essays on truth, love, nobility, death – see them here

– quote to remember: Knowledge is power. (Meditationes Sacrae. De Haeresibus. 1597)

– curiosity: there are some sources (like M. Twain’s Is Shakespeare Dead?) claiming, that he was an author of some of Shakespeare’s works… well, I will have to search this through to say yes/no.

Well, hope you’ve enjoyed this one. Interestingly enough – even after writing this and hearing “Francis Bacon” again, I will probably have on my mind,  firstly – the painter’s screaming, gorgeous works and then – ‘scientific method’ and ‘Knowledge is power’ , well – the power of art, the power of images proves to be even more intense than that of the pure ‘knowledge’… Or, so it seems to be…


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