May 11, 2016 - Tate Liverpool - Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms / Maria Lassnig / Ella Kruglyanskaya
May 11, 2016

Tate Liverpool

Francis Bacon, Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne Standing in a Street in Soho, 1967. © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2016. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms
Maria Lassnig
Ella Kruglyanskaya
May 18–September 18, 2016

Tate Liverpool
Albert Dock
Liverpool L3 4BB
United Kingdom

www.tate.org.uk
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Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms
Maria Lassnig
Ella Kruglyanskaya
May 18–September 18, 2016

Tate Liverpool
Albert Dock
Liverpool L3 4BB
United Kingdom

www.tate.org.uk
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

This summer, Tate Liverpool presents two of the 20th century’s foremost painters of the human body, Francis Bacon (1909–1992) and Maria Lassnig (1919–2014). Born just ten years apart, both artists devoted their careers to staging the figure, evoking bodily sensation and the human condition. We also present the first museum exhibition of New York-based painter Ella Kruglyanskaya (born 1978). Deeply committed to the many possibilities of painting, Kruglyanskaya emphasises the medium's relevance in our image-saturated society.

Widely recognised as one of the 20th century’s most important painters, Francis Bacon emerged in the years following the Second World War. Rethinking the activity of painting the human figure after photography and, as an atheist, in a world without god, the visceral force of Bacon’s figures is reliant on the structures and space-frames that surround them. Tracing Bacon’s practice across his career, the exhibition focusses on the architecture of his paintings to reveal the different ways that Bacon staged our encounter with the figure in space to express the condition of humanity as he lived it. He set out to make paintings in which the "paint comes across directly onto the nervous system" and viscerally communicated the breadth of human experience; yet his tactic for doing this was to navigate a singular path between narrative illustration and expressionistic abstraction. Fascinated by photography’s ability to "trap the image," Bacon nevertheless felt that it was not adequate to capture reality, and introduced artificial structures to elevate or exaggerate his figures’ spatial positioning.

For Maria Lassnig, the activity of self-portraiture was a lifelong preoccupation. At the root of her practice was the belief that the boundaries between the body and the outside world were porous and shifting. It was this boundary that Lassnig sought to make visible in her work. By the 1960s, she had developed her theory of what she referred to as "body-awareness" to explain her commitment to paint the body as it is internally felt. Though her style would shift across her long career, this would remain the touchstone of her practice. Over 70 years, Lassnig made paintings in which she addressed the subjugation of women, the emergence of science-fiction, the horrors of mechanised warfare, the nature of old age and death, and the act of painting itself. This exhibition presents self-portraits from across Lassnig’s career from the year of her graduation in 1945 to the year before her death in 2014.

Ella Kruglyanskaya is a focused survey of the artist’s practice from the past decade, alongside newly commissioned works. Her paintings foreground the pleasures, dramas, pitfalls and desires inherent in the act of looking. This gathering of works in particular emphasises her longstanding interest in the cinematic close-up, and its focus on the face as a site of expressive revelation or concealment. In scenes that are often infused with humorous visual puns, tricks of the eye, or bawdy double meanings, she depicts women who are archetypes or characters rather than portraits of real people. Focusing on these female protagonists engaged in gossip, leisure activities, theatrical encounters, and conspiratorial actions, the artist presents a challenge to visual art’s long and contentious history of representing women. Complex surface patterns and colour schemes illustrate in riotous detail markers of material wealth; at the same time the deliberately dramatic "staginess" of these compositions hints at the artist’s ironic stance towards these exaggerated displays of consumption. This rich material world, rendered by a resolutely flat system of painting and drawing, captures in its shallow space a realm that is purposefully exuberant and fun to look at. 

Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms is curated by Kasia Redzisz, Senior Curator and Lauren Barnes, Assistant Curator, with Ina Conzen, Curator and Deputy Director, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.

Maria Lassnig is curated by Kasia Redzisz, Senior Curator and Lauren Barnes, Assistant Curator.

Ella Kruglyanskaya is curated by Stephanie Straine, Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool.

Related events

Maria Lassnig exhibition tour with Hans Werner Poschauko
May 18, 6:30–7:30pm
A special tour of Maria Lassnig with Hans Werner Poschauko, artist and curator, who studied under Maria Lassnig.

Curator’s tour: Maria Lassnig and Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms
June 9, 6:30–7:30pm
This tour will introduce the curatorial thinking behind our Francis Bacon and Maria Lassnig exhibitions and draw out links between the two artists. 

Supported by
The Francis Bacon Exhibition Supporters Group
Maria Lassnig Foundation
The Austrian Federal Chancellery
Tate Liverpool Commissioning Circle and Tate Liverpool Members

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