If some of you will visit Rome by February 23th, I suggest paying a visit to the art exhibition about Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and the other five artists of the London School at Chiostro del Bramante
, located just a few metres far from Piazza Navona. All the paintings are lent by Tate and they are interesting for those who want to know the themes these heterogeneous artists expressed during the last century. Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, for example, describe a multitude of feelings and emotions: anguish, fear, strength, pain, death, mask, dynamism and energy, vulnerability and a veiled eroticism.
Chiostro del Bramante
, Bacon opposes the aggression to susceptibility, making a connection with the daily contemporary life. This painting is emotionally charged, and it puts the viewer in a sense of agitation and anxiety which allows him to throw out all the negativity kept inside.
Francis Bacon, Dog, 1952
I have chosen two symbolic Bacon portraits to illustrate the exhibition; one is Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne
and the second one is Study for Portrait II (after the life mask of William Blake).
In Rawsthorne, Bacon used the personal and intimate knowledge of his friend to depict her, although he preferred to base his works on the study of previous photographs. This intention was made by his willingness to distort the image beyond the appearance, but, at the same time, "bring the distortion back to something belonging to an appearance detail
Francis Bacon, Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne, 1966, Oil paint on canvas
In the work referring to William Blake's mask, Bacon gets the inspiration from the funeral mask of the poet and pictures of it. The result is a hybrid between a wax mask and a real human flesh face.
Francis Bacon, Study For Portrait II (After the life Mask of William Blake), 1965, Oil paint on canvas
Nevertheless, his distinctive scream can be found in The Study for a Portrait
, which emphasises the expressive energy of the mouth, made by sand mixed to color.
Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, 1952, Oil paint and sand on canvas
The most famous work of art by Freud is, without no do doubt, Standing by the Rags
, painted in the artist's London studio, where Lucian used the rugs to wipe his brushes. Beside the physical presence and the representation of blood and body secretions, this masterpiece is so attractive for the analogy to the classical nudes and structural compositions. Moreover, there's a short film and screen adaption which pays homage to Freud and the exhibition itself.
Lucian Freud, Standing by the Rags, 1988-89, Oil paint on canvas
The introspection and the psychological strain are well-defined in the Girl With A Kitten Portrait
, which is one of eight portraits of Freud's wif.e Kathleen Garman. Here, the woman holds a kitten by its neck and her expression is absent, paralysed by some event occurred (in this case, as the audio guides explain, a former bomb explosion in the city). The anguish released by the canvas reflects the effect derived by a traumatic event, with an impacting outcome on the spectator.
Lucian Freud, Girl with a Kitten, 1947, Oil paint on canvas
The reverse of Lucian Freud arrives in the middle of the seventies when the painter paints Two Plants
and reveals his interest in botanical themes. He wants to study and create something biological equaling the cycle of life: "something that grows and fades, and leaves that comes up and others die
Kossoff and Auerbach
Lucian Freud, Two Plants, 1977-80, Oil paint on canvas
On the popular topic of faces and emotions, it is worth of mentioning Head
by Leon Kossoff, who creates this portrait of model and writer Sonia Husid, with charcoal on paper. The darkness of the medium and its thick marks denotes the suffering and turmoil of the model, who had experienced the pogrom life. At the same time, this mood of desperation is hindered by the strength for survival that distinguishes this formidable woman.
Leon Kossoff, Head, c. 1957, Charcoal on paper
The artist, Kossoff, was good to delve into different styles as testified in Christ Church, Spitalfields, Morning
, an oil painted subject studied in different weather conditions and lights, like the impressionists used to do. As the School of London, artists were known for extending their research in various topics, this work of art highly embodies the switch on Kossoff's study. The project of depicting London had been previously developed through drawings, with one belonging to Christ Church, Spitalfields
and currently on show.
Leon Kossoff, Christ Church, Spitalfields, Morning, 1990, Oil paint on board
Leon Kossoff, Christ Church, Spitalfields, 1990, Charcoaland gouache on paper
On the same page is Frank Auerbach with the sitting room, a picture of Estella Olive Wests' living room, who appears in profile on the left side. On the other side of the work West's daughter is seated on a chair. A scalloped white lamp divides the board, while the earthy colors aid to create an intimate and comfortable atmosphere. This illustration recalls to those ones belonging to the old master of Expressionism; thus, it is worthy of admiration for the artist's versatility.
Frank Auerbach, The Sitting Room, 1964, Oil paint on board
In conclusion, it can be said that the exhibition requires quite an effort to attend, psychologically speaking, as it evokes several and insidious emotions that contribute to shake the visitor s mind and force him to deal with them.
However, it also can be lived like a precious experience to purify ourselves through the catharsis process the exhibition instills in us.