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terça-feira, 2 de dezembro de 2008

 
Interviews (3)



David Sylvester - When you get a photograph taken with a high-speed camera that produces an entirely unexpected effect which is highly ambiguous and exciting, because the image is the thing and it isn't, or because it's surprising that this shape is the thing: now, is that illustration?

Francis Bacon - I think it is. I think it is a diverted illustration. I think the difference from direct recording through the camera is that as an artist you have to, in a sense, set a trap by which you hope to trap this living fact alive. How well can you set the trap? Where and at what moment will it click? And there's another thing, that has to do with texture. I think the texture of a painting seems to be more immediate than the texture of a photograph, because the texture of a photograph seems to go through an illustrational process onto the nervous system, whereas the texture of a painting seems to come immediately onto the nervous system. It's terribly like, for instance... Supposing you were to think of great ancient Egyptian things made of bubble gum, supposing you were to think of the Sphinx made of bubble gum, would it have had the same effect upon the sensibility over the centuries if you could pick it up gently and lift it?

DS - You're giving this as an example of the effect of a great work's depending on the mysterious way in which the image combines with the material that it's made of?

FB - I think it has to do with endurance. I think that you could have a marvellous image made of something which will disappear in a few hours, but I think that the potency of the image is created partly by the possibility of its enduring. And, of course, images accumulate sensation around themselves the longer they endure.

DS - The thing that's difficult to understand is how it is that marks of the brush and the movement of paint on canvas can speak so directly to us.

FB - Well, if you think of the great Rembrandt self-portrait in Aix-en-Provence, for instance, and if you analyze it, you will see that there are hardly any sockets to the eyes, that it is almost completely anti-illustrational. I think that the mystery of fact is conveyed by an image being made out of non-rational marks. And you can't will this non-rationality of a mark. That is the reason that accident always has to enter into this activity, because the moment you know what to do, you're making just another form of illustration. But what can happen sometimes, as it happened in this Rembrandt self-portrait, is that there is a coagulation of non-representational marks which have led to making up this very great image. Well, of course, only part of this is accidental. Behind all that is Rembrandt's profound sensibility, which was able to hold onto one irrational mark rather than onto another. And abstract expressionism has all been done in Rembrandt's marks. But in Rembrandt it has been done with the added thing that it was an attempt to record a fact and to me therefore must be much more exciting and much more profound. One of the reasons why I dont't like abstract painting, or why it doesn't interest me, is that I think painting is a duality, and that abstract painting is an entirely aesthetic thing. It always remains on one level. It is only really interested in the beauty of its patterns or its shapes. We know that most people, especially artists, have large areas of undisciplined emotion, and I think that abstract artists believe that in these marks that they're making are catching all these sorts of emotions. But I think that, caught in that way, they are too weak to convey anything. I think that great art is deeply ordered. Even if within the order there may be enormously instinctive and accidental things, nevertheless I think that they come out of a desire for ordering and for returning fact onto the nervous system in a more violent way. Why, after great artists, do people ever try to do anything again? Only because, from generation to generation, through what the great artists have done, the instincts change. And, as the instincts change, so there comes a renewal of the feeling of how can I remake this thing once again more clearly, more exactly, more violently. You see, I believe that art is recording; I think it's reporting. And I think that in abstract art, as there's no report, there's nothing other than the aesthetic of the painter and his few sensations. There's never any tension in it.


David Sylvester in Interviews with Francis Bacon, 1975.



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