What then renders these forces visible is a
strange smile (or, First Study for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion)
for solo trumpet
“… the head with the bandaged eyes is not a head preparing to die, but an abominable head that smiles along the horizontal deformation of the mouth.
“...the Figure is the body without organs (dismantle the organism in favor of the body, the face in favor of the head); the body without organs is flesh and nerve; a wave flows through it and traces levels upon it; a sensation is produced when the wave encounters the Forces acting on the body, an ‘affective athleticism,’ a scream-breath. When sensation is linked to the body in this way, it ceases to be representative and becomes real; and cruelty will be linked less and less to the representation of something horrible, and will become nothing other than the action of forces upon the body, or sensation.
“...this line is decorative; it lies at the surface, but it is a material decoration that does not outline a form. It is a geometry no longer in the service of the essential and eternal, but a geometry in the service of ‘problems’ or ‘accidents’: ablation, adjunction, projection, intersection. It is thus a line that never ceases to change direction, that is broken, split, diverted, turned in on itself, coiled up, or even extended beyond its natural limits, dying away in a ‘disordered convulsion’ …
“Painting directly attempts to release the presences beneath representation, beyond representation. … This is not a hysteria of the painter, but a hysteria of painting. With painting, hysteria becomes art. Or rather, with the painter, hysteria becomes painting. … Painting is hysteria, or converts hysteria, because it makes presence immediately visible. But it does not treat the eye as a fixed organ. It liberates lines and colors from their representative function, but at the same time it also liberates the eye from its adherence to the organism … Painting gives us eyes all over: in the ear, in the stomach, in the lungs …
“Rhythm would cease to be attached to and dependent on a Figure: it is rhythm itself that would become the Figure, that would constitute the Figure.
“The transformation of form can be abstract or dynamic. But deformation is always bodily, and it is static, it happens at one place; it subordinates movement to force, but it also subordinates the abstract to the Figure. When a force is exerted on a scrubbed part, it does not give birth to an abstract form, nor does it combine sensible forms dynamically: on the contrary, it turns this zone into a zone of indiscernibility that is common to several forms, irreducible to any of them; and the lines of force that it creates escape every form through their very clarity, through their deforming precision.
“If we scream, it is always as victims of invisible and insensible forces that scramble every spectacle…. This is what Bacon means when he says he wanted ‘to paint the scream more than the horror.’
“With the triptych, rhythm takes on an extraordinary amplitude in a forced movement that gives it an autonomy and produces in us the impression of Time: the limits of sensation are broken, exceeded in all directions; the Figures are lifted up, or thrown in the air, placed upon aerial riggings from which they suddenly fall. But at the same time, in this immobile fall, the strangest phenomenon of recomposition or redistribution is produced, for it is the rhythm itself that becomes sensation; it is rhythm that becomes Figure, according to its own separated directions, the active, the passive, and the attendant.
“In art, and in painting as in music, it is not a matter of reproducing or inventing forms, but of capturing forces. For this reason no art is figurative. Paul Klee’s famous formula — ‘Not to render the visible, but to render visible’ — means nothing else. The task of painting is defined as the attempt to render visible forces that are not themselves visible. Likewise, music attempts to render sonorous forces that are not themselves sonorous.
“The first invisible forces are those of isolation: they are supported by the fields, and become visible when they wrap themselves around the contour and wrap the fields around the Figure. The second are the forces of deformation, which seize the Figure’s body and head, and become visible whenever the head shakes off its face, or the body its organism. The third are the forces of dissipation, when the Figure fades away and returns to the field: what then renders these forces visible is a strange smile.
- extracts from Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation
The work is dedicated to Tristram Williams, Daryl Buckley and ELISION, and is extracted from the larger work And the scream, Bacon's scream, is the operation through which the entire body escapes through the mouth (or, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion).