The piece that I will be analysing is called ‘Portrait of Pope Innocent X’ by the 30’s artist, Francis Bacon. The painting originates from the Spanish artist Diego Velazquez, who painted the original version of the Pope in 1650. It is not of any culture, but Bacon said he wanted an excuse to use those colours. It belongs to no tradition, but in my own opinion, Bacon adopted his own tradition by making all his paintings gruesome and violent.
The painting looks like acrylic paint on a canvas, and it’s a painting of Pope Innocent X. It’s really abstract, as if the artist was lashing at the canvas with his paintbrushes. The painting just looks really violent. There is the figure of the Pope sitting tightly upright with his face screaming in horror. The supports of the chair he’s sitting on have been extended to the sides of the painting. The Popes top rob is violet, and the rest of his gown is white. This gives the painting a ghostly feeling to it. The painting shows that the Pope is screaming, yet it seems that his voice is drowned out by the dark drapes of colours that have covered the painting; this also lends a nightmarish and grotesque tone to it. The Pope also looks as if he is in pain, though nothing is touching or harming him.
Bacon has used the bright yellow lines to define the chair the Pope is sitting on, and by putting sharp strokes over the top, creates a dense feeling within the painting. The colours though not all bright and exciting, create a tension, yellow, purple, white and black. Though he has used minimal amount of colour, it all works really well and looks as if a lot is going on. I think Bacon used acrylic to paint this picture, and used thick brush strokes as it looks like he was generous with the paints.
I like this painting because it holds some mystery to why an artist would make such a thing of a historical person. In my opinion, what the painter paints is the reflection of his mind, so it would be interesting to find out what Bacon was like as a person. I also like the way it holds a tension, like you know the Pope is screaming but you can’t hear it, which makes it feel like the painting is going to explode. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s really hard to draw, because his face his covered up by lines.
I chose to write about this piece because I think it had a lot of story to tell, when it didn’t, seeing as Bacon made more than one painting of the Pope over the course of his life. I also wanted to explain in my own words what I thought about the painting. I would ask Bacon why he felt the need to paint more than one Pope, why were is paintings so violent, was there anything in his life that influenced him to be a painter and why did he choose the paints he did.
I use the concept of the scream in my work, the bold outlandish colours and the black background, as they all seem to work well with each other. But I will use my own ideas with how he paints faces, which the paint isn’t blended but in patches along the face or parts of the skin coming off the face. Abstract shapes that are unnatural to the human form can be put in.