Francis Bacon at Tate Britain

I went to see the Bacon exhibition at Tate Britain today. And I enjoyed it, if enjoyed is the right word for work which is quite so bleak. He was an atheist who made a habit of painting crucifixions; and without the theology, a crucifixion is just a man being tortured to death.

Study of a Baboon 1953

So there were lots of trapped, screaming, contorted and frequently eviscerated figures, brutally unflattering portraits, and distinctly unhealthy-looking flesh. Which makes the work sound like some kind of chaotic stream of consciousness, but actually it seems tightly controlled: figures isolated in large plains of colour.

» Study of a Baboon, 1953, © The Estate of Francis Bacon/DACS 2008. Digital image © 2008, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. James Thrall Soby Bequest, 1979. Taken from the exhibition website, which is excellent as usual at the Tate.

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