When I was starting out as an artist, I was having trouble with feelings about the purpose of our human existence. I related to Karl Marx talking about the problems of consumerism and the alienation of labour. Marx stated that if you are cut off from the fruits of your work, then you are cut off from your creativity, and you lose your sense of self. This introspection on existentialism and the influential work of Francis Bacon lead me to become a painter as a creative outlet for my thoughts.
I realised I was happiest when I was making something. It needed to be something for me that doesn’t have the main aim of making money. I feel that this is one of the main problems with the western consumeristic society. People often lose connection with their output. They complete a task just to make money, just to survive. I believe the goal of making money causes psychological problems with our individual purpose and happiness.
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During the process of making art, I feel the artwork becomes an extension of me. I get closer to my deeper self. Through painting, my purpose stretches out before me. I realised no one else can make another painting precisely the same. No-one else has my thoughts. This powerful idea that I am unique and I can communicate what I feel really resonates with my heart.
After learning about Francis Bacon at art school, and seeing Bacon’s work at several exhibitions in London, including his major retrospective at the Tate in 2008, I saw the way forward. I immediately related to his work and understood it. As Bacon puts it, “art is about trying to make something out of the chaos of existence.”
To enable me to communicate my feeling of angst and estrangement with the world, I realised I could paint the figure in the city. Since I grew up in the country, I found the city fascinating and it is where I felt increasingly heighten feelings of alienation.
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I was in a trance by the power of Bacon’s large canvases. Bacon depicted the complexity and chaos that was going on around me and inside me. His paintings focused on the invisible forces that underlie me. I strongly relate to the feelings of angst and disorientation.
I realised Bacon wasn’t only interested in directly painting a representation of life. He wanted to heighten the viewer’s feelings. His paintings were created by using raw instinct and chance. Often there is a single figure in Bacon’s paintings, the individual that creates a tremendous force that twists, contorts and stretches out. Bacon’s striking depictions stirred my emotions with the immediacy, and with the deep and lasting impact of his art.
I deeply related to Bacon’s paintings and felt painting was the perfect way I could communicate my thoughts. What I like about Bacon’s approach is that he is not trying to understand the human condition, Bacon realises he cannot. If he could explain it, there would be no reason to paint it. Bacon was instead trying to get you to feel what he feels. He portrays a figure, not as an educated, cultured, pillar of the community but instead as nothing but a raw piece of meat. It is direct, honest and compelling. Francis Bacon explains it eloquently, “the job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” Francis Bacon had a tremendous impact on me. Inspiring me to follow in his footsteps and to become a painter.