11 Mar 2010

Coagulated Copulation

by Corry Shores
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Coagulated Copulation

In the 9th chapter of Logic of Sensation, Deleuze writes that Bacon couples sensations, which then produces coupled figures. Bacon begins with irrational markings, and from them paints an image that strikes our nervous systems with the sensation he wants us to have. Deleuze cites part of an interview where Bacon explains how he wanted to paint the 'coagulated' sensation of two copulating figures. The following expands that cited quotation.

David Sylvester: When it has crystallized for you, do you know it immediately or do you need a few weeks or months to be sure?

Francis Bacon: Well, if my work goes at all well, it goes very quickly. For instance, in the orange triptych of 1970 which you said that you quite liked, where the centre panel has two figures on a bed - well, I knew that I wanted to put two figures together on a bed, and I knew that I wanted them in a sense either to be copulating or buggering - whichever way you like to put it - but I didn't know how to do it so that it would have the strength of the sensation which I had about it. I just had to leave it to chance to attempt to make an image. I wanted to make an image which coagulated this sensation of two people in some form of sexual act on the bed, but then I was left completely in the void and left absolutely to the haphazard marks which I make all the time. And then I worked on what's called the given form. And, if you look at the forms, they're extremely, in a sense, unrepresentational. One of the things I've always tried to analyze is why it is that, if the formation of the image that you want is done irrationally, it seems to come onto the nervous system much more strongly than if you knew how you could do it. Why is it possible to make the reality of an appearance more violently in this way than by doing it rationally? Perhaps it's that, if the making is more instinctive, the image is more immediate. (Bacon & Sylvester 102-104, emphasis mine)

[Below are images from the coupled figures of the
Triptych, Studies from the Human Body, 1970 that Bacon refers-to here.]

(Thanks Editions de la différence and the Estate of Francis Bacon)

Bacon, Francis & David Sylvester. The Brutality of Fact: Interviews with Francis Bacon. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1987.
More information from the publisher here:

Images obtained gratefully from:
Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. Tome II - Peintures. Paris: Editions de la différence [Littératures], 1981.

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