Today, I took myself off to the Francis Bacon – Five Decades exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I’m in nail-biting limbo waiting for feedback from my Publisher on my second novel and so it was nice to break up the usual routine with a mooch around those big, white gallery rooms and gaze a while on some amazing paintings.
The art was moving and disturbing – the sort of work that challenges and creates an uncomfortable, visceral feeling. On one gallery wall was a quote which simply said: “What is life but what we feel?” Francis Bacon’s paintings, to me, were all about the extremes of feeling, of being alive.
A few paintings featured a man called George Dyer, Francis Bacon’s lover for nearly a decade. The artist claimed to have met George when he caught him breaking into his home. That detail really struck me – one of those stranger than fiction stories. Tragically, less than ten years later the troubled George died of an overdose in a Parisian hotel room, just before the opening night of Francis Bacon’s retrospective at the Grand Palais. The paintings Francis Bacon created of George Dyer following his death were some of the most moving in the collection – the grief there to see in every brushstroke.