Pedro Meira Monteiro

Despair and desolation

Despair and desolation. Maybe those are the feelings triggered by Francis Bacon’s paintings. The curator of the Bacon exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York seems obsessed by the idea that the bodies that Bacon painted expressed something like “men without God” – one could read that statement all over the crowded galleries at the museum. We all know that Bacon’s art has to do with the lack of redemption, and the absence of any relief: in the end, we’re nothing but those horrible bodies. But still, the disfigured bodies are surrounded by a most ethereal essence, some mysterious stuff that immediately links us to the very idea of transcendence. That’s perhaps what is lacking in the curator’s script. There is indeed something beyond the body. If it’s joy or sadness, we really don’t know. And that’s what makes it so touching, I believe. Bacon’s disfigured bodies are nothing but soulless things, which nonetheless are things invested in transcendence.

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Pedro Meira Monteiro