Sunshine Horrorshow

It’s a beautiful day today. The sun is shining and it’s warm, but not too hot. Perhaps it’s the mild depression and physical discomfort from my last binge-drinking session that made me think of Francis Bacon. For some reason, most of his stuff makes me think of self-abuse, and not the fun kind either. The fact that I feel like crap at the moment is accentuated by the glorious weather.

Source: Wikipedia

I once saw a documentary about him and he was exactly as I had pictured him. Red-faced, melancholic, very drunk, and very gay. Someone always on the verge of tears, even when enjoying himself in a bar with friends and drink.

His pictures are very disturbing not because the distorted figures are somehow terrifying or horrible, but because every time I see them I am moved to tears. Or I would be if it was appropriate to blubber in front of these pieces in the gallery. People would think you seriously weird and emotional if that happened, and I learned at a very young age that if you are moved by beauty you get your ass kicked for it. Probably not in London, they’d just think you weird, but habits like that cannot be mended in a couple of weeks to neglect years of programming. At home, I can at least experiment and what I find is that something seems to swell from these seemingly simple images, something that just runs you over if you don’t avert your eyes.

Source: Wikipedia

It’s not a pleasant feeling, but there’s little in Bacon that’s about pleasure anyway. It’s more about horror and perhaps something akin to the soreness in my throat induced by whiskey and cigarettes. Perhaps it’s death as that little gnawing rat of a creature trying to claw its way through my throat. There is irony in these works, but they are not funny and if you have a friend who would impress you by saying that they are somehow amusing, he’s either a liar or an idiot. Horror films are funny at best, horror paintings are not.

Source: Wikipedia

There is always something farcical in horror movies as one looks at ridiculously horrendous events unfold with mechanical certainty and whereas Bacon’s triptychs can be viewed as stills from some sordid film, time stands still in them and they seem to look back at you. Whether it’s the story of Dyer’s death or something a bit more incomprehensible, one sees a series of events with no apparent meaning or simple connection that could explain away the meaninglessness of life and death. There’s nothing behind them because there really is nothing we can search for, no behind the curtains, no curtains.

Why do anything, then? Why get up in the morning? I honestly don’t know, but I did and, looking out my window, I’m very glad I got up. It’s a beautiful day. Perhaps that’s the beauty in Bacon: miraculously, we can be glad without being part of some great cosmic scheme of a transcendent moral realm. The Furies might descend on us and after Bacon we could welcome them with open arms, knowing that they could do their worst and the sun would shine just as bright the next day.

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