Category Archives: Art

Review Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance, V&A, London by James Ellis

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Perhaps overshadowed by later artists, Donatello wows in many ways. The sculptures remain highly polished and from the era of the 15th century being well before his time.

The V&A have take it upon themselves to grace London with a wonderful show of his work, though looking at the details of a lot of the pieces, only so many are officially linked to the master. A majority of work is attributed to him, or from his school, or perhaps later loving tributes, what is actually his remains uncertain. Though his genius is proven in his David, a world away from Michelangelo’s more famous statue. David here is more androgynous, the head of Goliath slumped below him. David stands proudly, his left arm resting confidently on his hip. This was the start of the exhibit and there were many more joys to see.

Of note were the fellow artists around the time of Donatello. A huge head, God the Father by Beltramino de Zuttis da Rho, made from copper gilded and silvered remains a staggering vision. It’s size is imposing and the vivid details are also fascinating, tuffs of hair and beard aside, wrinkles and slightly open lips. How well persevered the marble bust of Donatello’s doctor Doctor Giovanni Chellini by Antonio Rossellino remains. Donatello’s Reliquary bust of San Rossore, is bronze though is a typically gilded site you’d see for a reliquary in a cathedral. It has a remarkable pull to it commanding attention away from the other busts around it.

The Sarcophagus of St Justina from the workshop of Gregorio di Allegretto is a fine example of perspective. With upcycling of this Roman sarcophagus, this was once believed to have been by Donatello and makes the female body match the length of it with feet spread apart and shoulders wide. This marble wonder also sees angels carved upon its side ends were by another craftsmen. Giovanni Pisano also had a fetching marble piece of Virgin and Child: turn to the left of it and both Mary and Jesus gaze at you almost judgementally. Donatello’s milky white marble relics are also staggering. One phenomena sees Mary as if she slammed her nose against the baby Jesus, a vision of true beauty. His bronze statue Attis-Amorino sees the Pan like fella stomping on a snake and gesturing with his fingers also OK signs. This is certainly a real highlight of the show, I saw a few people spend time with it and marvel upon it.

Two angels from a tomb by Michelozoo di Bartolomeo also had a lot going for it, their preservation also note worthy. As you go on a huge horse head, St George, a Crucifix and St Maurelius stunt the viewer as the exhibit continues. These are the show stopper sculptures and perhaps the main reason to come and see this. Even a drawing believed to be my Donatello of a section of The Massacre of the Innocents, sees vidid eye markings and horrible facial expressions.

Though a painting by Giovanni Bellini of Dead Christ supported by two angels is awkwardly place in a corner of a wall where you cant get to take it in, its positioning made it hard work. The immaculate, angular revelation of the Lamentation over Dead Christ by Bartolomeo Bellano also felt way ahead of its time and could have easily been by David Jones. The creases in the shrouds cannot be hyped use enough, I was ecstatic. The last rooms set tributes, influences and even fakes all turning to Donatello as a guide. An arch in the wall makes you look back at the David we started with and we see the Victorians develop a love for this Italian master.

Lovers of sculpture shouldn’t think twice about seeing this show.

Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance continues at the V&A till 11th June 2023.

Review, OMELETTEMACHINE, Tommaso Giacomin, Vault Festival, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

If you are not familiar with the style of Bouffon theatre, then you are severely missing out.

Myself having trained in this art and a huge fan of Red Bastard, was so pleased to see and be invited to a show using this type of theatre, so little seen or experienced in modern theatre, while being the right genre to grace our stages.

A brief outline of Bouffon; grotesque creatures are made with costume and physicality, to comment on taboos of the world. These clowns address these topics without barriers and put them almost uncomfortably into your face, leaving you not knowing whether to laugh, cry or be thought provoked.

OMELETTEMACHINE, loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, addressing issues around family trauma, of power and mental violence and to some degree, of capitalism. A clowned chicken meets egg is forcibly made to work in his father’s butchery, unable to leave and tortured to massacre fellow chickens. He is unable to leave, and if so, commits punishments of almost cannibalism with “rotten” egg eating, smashing of eggs and chopping of chicken meat.

This production is very powerful; Bouffon aims to make the audience uncomfortable and Giacomin does this in spades. He isn’t afraid of addressing the audience, bringing them into the folds of his torture. This is through direct interaction, through the use of raw meat and blood-like liquid, through the beginning projection of live chicks in a factory. Real blades are used, unceremoniously chopping at raw meat; raw chickens still in tact and grotesquely danced on stage or come through the audience on a electric toy car. It’s these elements of surprise that are comedic but make you uneasy. It entirely and fantastically achieves what it is meant to, really making you think. And if you’re vegetarian like myself, there’s a barrier of disgust but admiration for the boundaries that are being pushed to make comments on these topics. A sense of “working for the man” comes to mind when Giacomin uses repetition to advertise his father’s butchers, with monotonous and repeated tasks and conversations. There’s the family trauma but also a sense of working for something and someone you are against.

Giacomin has the style of Bouffon on instant look; plumped up with padding and contorted physicality, he is comedic and difficult to look at, moving his face into an almost unrecognisable clown. When we reach the end of the production, he lays himself bare, releasing the shackles of his costume and returning to his natural features and this is when you truly realise the lengths he has taken in his bodily and facial contortion to create the character. If we had not seen him undress on stage before us, you would almost think they were two different actors. He is childlike, to meet the idea of his father’s control yet somehow uncomfortably adult, with the mixture of the two creating a feeling uneasiness. He is full of emotions of anger, of fear, of borderline mental illness and it makes it subtly chaotic, your body itchy with uncomfortability but entirely thought provoked. This is a triumph of Bouffon.

OMELETTEMACHINE is brilliant – it is everything that Bouffon is meant to be and leaves you laughing, uncomfortable and yet with a profound thought on family relationships and the capitalist world.

Review Spain and the Hispanic World Exhibition, Royal Academy of Art, London by James Ellis 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Another centre to the Royal Academy in London would see a huge show with a massive scope spanning centuries for the art of Spain. There was a lot to get in here and I dare say I think a good three hours (consider a break in between) would be advised to drink in its entirety. 

We start with the Bronze Age and Roman finds from Spain, though there a only a few items on display. A headless statue of Diana, goddess of hunting and the moon is one curiosity, the other an astounding pair of trullae, large silver spoons two thousand year olds and in phenomenal condition. Later rooms would feature the influence of Islam and the Moors, textiles becoming mainstream with intricate detailing and fine craftsmanship. Larger and larger bolts would also prove popular with wonky animals and more elaborate patterns, though this gradually grew overdone. 

A dog door knocker possibly from Galicia excited one of my friends from the area on Messenger, I also noted that the map of Spain upon entry, only listed some cites and regions and not others. What did, wow were the coloured busts of saints, both the fine artistry of Juan de Juni and Pedro de Mena whited gleamed in their light and candid ecstasy. Even more amazing remained the Polychrome wooden busts of Christ and the Virgin Mary by Andrea de Mena and what remained a highlight of the whole epic show. Mary even had eyelashes…I remained floored by these two creations.  

Work from their empire in the Americas would see a dazzling aqua lion water kettle, vivid plates and a statue of an angel so dramatic it somehow appeared Asian in design. The smaller things in the show would prove the triumph with ‘The Four Fates of Man: Death, Soul in Hell, Soul in Purgatory, Soul in Heaven’, attributed to Manuel Chili (called Caspicara). You can just feel the shame and guilt these little half bodied figures would install in people back then, their death metal appearance is still vivid all these years later. Some classic, conventional Goya portraits are also a delight, though I did crave some of his more twisted, unsettling works.  

Many pieces do obviously feature religious subjects, more specifically Catholicism and we can see this grip loosen as the empire dies down, after looking at some famous maps of the Americas and Europe. Velazquez still has a pull over an audience all these years later, his portraits command the space. ‘El Costeño (The Young Man from the Coast)’ by José Agustin Arrieta sees a young man of colour who was possibly a slave, holding an abundance of tropical fruits, a decent painting loaded with more than you think.      

The work of Joaquín Sorolla moved with it’s watery impressionistic beach scapes, really lovely just to look at. Contrasting this in the same space was Ignacio Zuloaga disturbed with ‘The Penitents’, dark and moody, blood everywhere. The show ends with a sketch of one of Sorolla’s murals ‘Vision of Spain’…but the question remains…where is the art that came out of Spain since these painters? We are talking over a century of work which has been completely ignored for perhaps a safe choice of not going into Modernism and other movements. What about Picasso? Dalí? Joan Miró? This remains a shame as it could have crowned the exhibit with a final flourish. 

Spain and the Hispanic World runs till 10 April 2023 at Royal Academy of Art, London.  

Design for Contemporary Drama An interview with Director Mehdi Razi

In this interview Mehdi gives an overview of his career to date and shares his experience as part of Fio’s Arise Wales Creatives programme for Emerging Directors at RWCMD.

Director Mehdi Razi in front of the model box and designs by Kathryn Brown of Brown Boys Swim by Karim Khan

Hi I am originally from a Shiraz in Iran I first came to Wales in 2015 for a Masters in Product Design at Cardiff Met. During my time as a student I found Cardiff to be a very welcoming city. After completing the Masters I worked for two years in the Design Industry, based in Splott.

I was always interested in the performing arts and after moving to Wales a few things changed in my life, offering the opportunity to focus on the performing arts as a career. Initially I  started ushering and volunteering through Sherman 5 at the Sherman Theatre and National Dance Company Wales on the Dance for Parkinson’s programme

Volunteering helped give me an insight into the possibilities of different areas I could work in the arts. This alongside shadowing and then later assisting on performances gave me an option to see things in detail and how I could invest in these areas as a career.

I developed my experience as a Producer about 5 years ago with WNO on a placement and shadowing on productions. I produced an R and D project called Beyond the Rainbow with Oasis (who support Refugees and Asylum Seekers) and the Refugee Council for Wales, this resulted in an informal sharing at the Wales Millennium Centre.

I then started on small assisting roles with the company and also enjoyed working as an emerging producer for Theatr Clwyd. During lockdown I worked on some projects of my own with support from ACW

Thankfully as Lockdown eased, work opportunities opened up and I assisted Joe Murphy as trainee Assistant Director on Christmas Carol in 2021 at The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.

The Design for Contemporary Drama Exhibtion at RWCMD

Then in in April 2021 I signed up for Fios, ARISE – Wales Creatives programme for Emerging Directors. At the start of the project we all met with Patrick Connellan and Lucy Hall in the RWCMD Design Department they spoke about the relationship with the Director and Designer and the level of collaboration between the individuals

We were then put in pairs and given some plays to work on in order to help develop our working relationship. I was partnered with a RWCMD Design Student called Kathryn Brown.

The play we worked on is called Brown Boys Swim by Karim Khan

Kathryn created a mood board and we discussed the different elements of the production. We worked on the core idea of movement and cubic elements, The play interrogates feelings of oppression and the individuals place in society. Kathryn found that the traditional changing cubicle in the swimming pool would be great metaphor for the boys lives, sharing and then isolation so we played with this element.

Kathryn’s designs

We then worked on choreographic elements for the space. We had a few creative meetings, and considered what the change of position of the cubicles in the work would this mean to the audience and storyboarded the development of the play together.

A rough design was presented to me and we then looked at the blocking and the choreography was clear, we focused on the visual details, lighting, colour  and transitions in the space. We focused on design details and construction, how scenery might be moved around the space and considerations of construction. A more detailed version of the model box was presented to me, we then finalised the design details and the practicalities of the sightlines for the audience.  

Kathryn’s costume designs

Our  brief was based on a specific space called The Studio at Chapter Arts Centre so we went on a site visit to the venue.

Kathryn’s finished model box

This was my first project at College I really enjoyed going into the design studio as I have a design background myself. Everyone involved was very inclusive, it was very collaborative. The RWCMD Tutors would often come in to chat, it was great to see such a high level of support.

I enjoyed being around the students, RWCMD is comfortable and homely, its a welcoming campus you can have lunch and work its such a pleasant environment.

The exhibition at RWCMD runs until the 10 Feb you can find more information below with a selection of images from other RWCMD Designers.

Africa Fashion Week, Freemason HALL 2022 Review by Tanica Psalmist

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

‘Africa Fashion Week’ successfully celebrated its 12th year anniversary on the 8th & 9th October 2022 taking place in London, Freemason Hall. To ensure 2023 fashion show was another sell out 2022 had to be truly African infused & it truly was!!!

Credit Tanica Psalmist

A grand exhibition showcasing several merchants, latest garments & handmade jewellery made from various crystals, minerals and materials such as ebony and stone for starters! It’s no doubt that the Motherland was truly represented with deep infused floods of Africa’s rich culture, boutiques, diverse beauty & celebratory inspirations, influence & contentment oozing from the models onto the audience.

Credit Tanica Psalmist

I attended both days to glimpse AFW in every detail & glory from behind scenes, mental preparation to the adequate appreciation for the designers clothes, which all were worn to perfection! Many of the Fashion designers this year included; Pills, LN Watches , Sluvin Designs & Durban South Africa , Gugu Boutique, May M Designs, Massassi B, Twelve19styles, Ethnicity Clothing , Fresh by Do Turn, Slungile Mokoena Designer, Black Snow Men , Dogan Culture , Fashion Ash & many more great legends who’s brands captured, elevated & fulfilled the purpose to represent African designs on a global & grand scale.

AFW is more than just about diverse beauty, fashionistas, togetherness, celebration, unity, embracement, inspiration – it’s about elegance, royalty, Deity, learning, engagement & witnessing the beauty of freedom, culture, love, passion & acceptance.

Credit Tanica Psalmist

A typical start at AFW entails early starts booming intense makeup prep, dress & tech rehearsals & in return audience energy, infusion & model excellence! The unpredictability of unexpected authentic African dance styles is what makes poses equally exciting! certain poses entailed dance styles, such as; Ikpirikpi- Ogu (war dance), Atilogwu (Acrobatic Dance), Mmanwu (masquerades), Omuru onwa & Agbacha-ekuru-nwa, Indlamu, Adumu, Kete to name a few, hitting our eyes with eloquent spins, twirls & flirtation. The entire atmosphere took you to the African continent flight free for a truly memorable, captivating & rewarding evening.

AFW’s statement this year was to love yourself unconditionally & that your worth is not determined by the worth of high end fashion brands but by the price of realness, quality, uniqueness, happiness, tranquility, innocence, projecting your soul & to embrace the individuality of African culture, passion & depths of the motherland’s diversity.

Credit Tanica Psalmist

Nothing spoke louder then Sunday’s event where we witnessed the community within the audience come to life! oozing out positive intelligence, passion, enthusiasm, self love & a reminder to be you & live as you & be the best person of yourself, good job AFW – ROLL ON AFW 2023!!!

Review Call the Waves Exhibition & Stellar Footprints Chapter Arts Centre by James Ellis 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

It is water, the lifeblood of all things that is the major component of Chapter’s latest exhibit. A diverse group of mostly female artists and other academics have teamed together to tell an absorbing tale of their relationship with water on both a personal and cultural level. The lands of Wales, Palestine and Morocco feature, spread out in the gallery and not cluttering any of the work.

The first room with Kandace Siobhan Walker sees a fishing net looming over us with polaroids, song lyrics and sea-scape video that welcome us with much poetry and retro charms. Noureddine Ezarraf had made fabric pieces which I’ll confess don’t ignite the senses, though do have subtle nuances, both works marbled with black lining over the soft, amber palettes.

Bint Mbareh has found her own little nook, with a live performance of Stellar Footprints in her fabric fort. As we watch seeing only her feet and bottom legs, she asked us to feel as if we had water dropping on us and around us, then requested we walk around her structure so that she could capture the sounds. Speaking to Bint after, she admitted more needed to be done to capture the energy of the audience, who fizzled out after a while, giving up on the stomping, as if we were wading through water. She invited us beforehand for a select few of us to join her in the fort towards the end, some did though the piece appeared to be over. With a bit more rehearsal this could be quite tight, Bint’s vocals singing through especially exquisite towards the end.

Fern Thomas’ work sees wordy verses spread out all over the wall, as a rock on rope gently sways in our line of sight. A rich spiritual heritage fills the words and a universal mood comes across in these words of love and respect for water. The final room filled with the pieces by Alia Mossallam and Maya Al Khaldi had headphones with folk singing mothers looping and a little study area with desks and carpets (we are encouraged to add to the embroidery, with staff offering needles). I found this room quite absorbing, letters from the British government in Egypt allude to corruption and racism, the carpet spreading up to the wall a really nice touch as well. Veils also hang from the ceiling a slight flutter to the end of a exhibit with history and culture as it core.

Calls the Waves continues at Chapter Arts Centre till 20th November 2022 along with further workshops, talks and further performances. 

Review Raphael: The Credit Suisse Exhibition National Gallery by James Ellis 

Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts Budapest
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

One of the many fine exhibitions in London presently has to be for Raphael. Though well known as a master artist in every field he covered, he might still be lesser known, more love for his contemporaries. 

Arriving in the space we are first met with a stunning small piece, a painting of Saint Sebastian. Here, he appears full faced and holding a spear, his famous symbol from the Romans trying to do him in. He simply glows and the finer details of his bright features and eloquent clothes stand out. You can see why they chose this first. I loved it so much I went all the way back to see it again prior to leaving the show. 

The amount of painting of baby Jesus is on mass. Of course he is frequently seen with the Virgin Mary and his cousin, John the Baptist, recognisable for his long, cane cross and fur. It’s the posturing of each figure that helps formulate a highly stylised vision. It’s the shading that stands out and the magic that Rapheal could colour with paint. Ginormous fabric pieces based off his work tower over exhibition walls, staggering to think the amount of hours that would have gone into making these. 

A huge Crucifixion impose upon the viewer, though not his most stimulating offering. Saint Catherine of Alexandria looks to the heavens for answers, in a perfectly contoured show of details and poise. Some drawings are too indistinct to truly appreciate and some scribbly letters prove his muddled writing, through a brilliant intellect.   

Lorenzo de’ Medici stands proudly in the final room, his clothes showy for this huge figure in Italian history. Growing up an orphan, one wonders if these mother and child iconography had a deep impact on the Rapheal. Architecture and metal work would also show off his vast talents, reaching fever pitch in a tiny room with video work of his buildings and some frescos. Looking back a good amount of time is required to drink this show in. At least two hours I’d say. 

Truly the hot ticket of the summer. 

Raphael: The Credit Suisse Exhibition continues at the National Gallery till 31 July 2022. 

Review Whistler & Kyōsai, Royal Academy by James Ellis 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Whistler’s Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Kyōsai: The Israel Goldman Collection 

A final gallery trip would be an action packed afternoon at the Royal Academy. In Whistler’s Woman in White show, we get a telling scope on Joanna Hiffernan, Irish model and muse to many an artist of her time. The show features her in many frames and other women in white from the era, Willkie Collin’s book of the same name getting referenced and a poster print from a staging looms over most viewers. A Klimt painting remains a thing of beauty, though we crave his more exuberant gold pieces. Rossetti’s painting of The Annunciation is one of the finest work here, of a slim build, the biblical image compress to a narrow canvass of tension. Truly something to marvel at.

Perhaps most fascinating is Joanna in Gustave Courbet’s Jo, the Irish Woman. Most remarkable, there are three version of the very same painting and it remains unclear which is the original. How fascinating to pick up on the slight variations in each of them, her eyes more sunken in one, her cheeks more rouge in another. It’s quite a candid work and it remained a highlight. Courbet’s Seascapes on the other hand felt quite pedestrian and of little interest, I spent a very short amount of time with them.

Of course, it all lead up to the big guns. Whistler’s Woman in White was the dazzling finale to this mostly fine exhibit. Joanna glows here, her red hair almost veil like with strangely little detail in it. As if a bride, she holds a flower and is atop a wolf skin rug. This is a moving encounter, Whilst proving his mastery though other work in the show would also prove this. She looks beyond the viewer as if lost in another realm, adding to the dreamy quality of the whole encounter. I can’t gush enough about this painting. Though quite a small exhibit, it’s effect is monumental.

Following on was something drastically different. Kawanabe Kyōsai’s work from Japan makes for a highly amusing and often touching apparition. It’s the ink work that really makes it. Some of the fine folklore and depictions of animals stand out. A female ghost is a horrible sight on one screen, a shocking sight in keeping with the superstition of his home country. The West adored his work and it’s easy to see why. Even just a cat with such a look of contentment makes for a joy to gaze upon. Some of the more outrageous drawings involves the bottoms and testicles of the figures, the latter being affronted by another more curious cat. You could almost hear the slide whistle.

The detailing on the robes of some women in the art is another eye watering detail. Also noteworthy how some of the crow works are highly figurative, the ink generously spread around, yet still it is clearly a crow. It’s the beak that gives it away, as well as the obvious black ink usage. A giant wide-spread panel sees demons and creatures, looking as if it was created yesterday, such was it’s fine quality (Gerald Scarf would lap it up!). This has clearly been well looked after (dating from 1871-1889. This would clearly go on to influence manga and anime, staples of Japanese culture today. Another fine show, for another fine artist.

At the Royal Academy of Arts, Whistler’s Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan continues till 22 May 2022 and Kyōsai: The Israel Goldman Collection till 19 June 2022.

Review Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child by James Ellis

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

My time in London has mostly been swallowed up by theatre and music. Itching to see more fine art shows, I approached the Hayward Gallery to get my fix.

Starting with Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child, this was a partially haunting experience in my view. The French-American artist had a long career and this show lingers with work from the last 20 years of her long life. Real clothes and textiles drape certain installations, bones and wire haunt others. The act of birth and motherhood dominate a lot of the imagery. Her cloth heads and figures disturb for their uncanny qualities, shapes and forms are colourful and pleasing in other work. The gallery itself was busy to witness these worn pieces, alive in the macabre mood which stung in the air.

Female forms hang from the air, half the body a lumpy spiral with the loss of a head and arms. Bourgeois makes you see the female form anew through these warped, bumpy bodies. An element of bondage creeps in, with the hangings, the wrappings and use of cloths making for steamy, messed up sights. It can leave you puzzled and enthralled. One installation featured the roots of a tree, with a wooden hand perfectly fitting into one branch of the root, another pleasing sight. The black, headless bodies in an apparent act of coitus as perhaps the most messed up things in the entire exhibit. I found myself awash in a fight or flight response to it all.

Of course her giant spider creature, (her most famous piece) makes an outing, perhaps the true highlight of the show. Resting on a metal cage, along with its very own eggs, the work appears powerful if fragile, inspired if taxing to make. Visitors really drink in this and you could feel the love with may a photo taken with the momma spider creation. Bourgeois spoke of her family as if spiders: always mending and repairing. Her lovely insight about a spider never getting angry when its web is broken just making it anew, is a nice quote for the wistful state out world is today.

It is a gallery experience which is entrancing, but might just leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Louise Bourgeois: The Woven Child continues at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre till 15 May 2022.

Review Francis Bacon, Man and Beast, The Royal Academy by James Ellis

Photo credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The biggest London exhibition of the work for years of Francis Bacon presently stagnates at The Royal Academy. I have fond memories of the previous exhibit at the Tate Britain in 2008, a lasting legacy for me as a lover of his craft. I can’t tell you how many times I doodled his Base of a Crucifixion figures in uni, a version of this on display, though not the pure horror of the original. The only work of his I’ve seen since is the lesser known painting in Cardiff at the National Museum, not one of his best (though I believe) is still on display.

Even with my energies waining I found this show at the Academy quite absorbing with all the morbid curiosity, crowds rushing to see the weird stuff first indeed. This is certainly for the strong of stomach as the amount of viscera splashed around is unbounded. We see some electric bull fighting paintings, (I saw an actual living spider in one of the canvasses and notified security!) with swept paint and a mustard yellow backdrop, the scorching Spanish climate defining death in the afternoon that is the so called sport. We know he loved boxing as well, violence is never far away. This gory spectacle both horrifies and delights.

Fine work is seen in his portraits of friends, lovers and his contemporaries. The way he holds the faces is but a still shot of a highly rendered, bruised stop-motion. The pit of despair which never leaves any of this work…consider the drunk and drug fuelled nights he created this paintings without any idea of what they might be in his baffling, hoarder like studio. His influences are clear and also quite random. The early photography of Meyerbeer, the classic Russian film Battleship Potemkin and even the animal world strongly feature and maintain masterstrokes in every flick and scrub.

Monkeys and chimps appear a few times, a reminder of our primal heritage and of our base desires. Sex is never far away from Bacon’s mind, a homosexual during the time it was illegal must have had a deep effect on him. His lover George Dyer haunts many frames, their tragic love story best presented in the film Love is the Devil: A Portrait of Francis Bacon. Derek Jacobi was simply made to play Bacon…

Nobody nor face comes out of his gaze undamaged, as if surreal boxing match in a dark theatre box outline. The deformed and the decayed loiter. His use of colours not usually seen in art: purple, orange and black also defines his brilliance. One sensational triptych even features huge pink paintings with three squalid female figures. His blows dust in other pieces, or newspaper print in another. Perhaps other unmentionables as well, maybe? His work is now in museums around the world and private collections. Here was a small buffet of his twisted vision with some good highlights and lesser seen work to boot.

A must see in London.

Francis Bacon Man and Beast runs at the Royal Academy London till 17 April 2022.