Tuesday 19 November 2019

Bacon to help paint picture of Ireland at EU exhibit

Laura Butler

IT'S a military operation being carried out with

soft cotton gloves.

Over €6m worth of artwork from one of our most famous artists, Francis Bacon, is being shipped to Brussels in the coming weeks as part of a cultural exhibition to celebrate Ireland's presidency of the European Union.

But such is the delicacy of his works that custom-made crates have been made to ship the paintings abroad. The Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Hugh Lane Gallery have collaborated for the sizeable 'Changing States' exhibition and the operation is being overseen by Dr Margarita Cappock, head of collections at the Hugh Lane.

Fragile

"We're lending a selection from his studio, which is really important because it's where he worked for 30 years," Dr Cappock said.

"We've been getting ready for this for months, cataloguing and preparing items. Bacon's work is very fragile, so everything has to be enclosed into custom-made crates. Once they arrive they have to acclimatise as well before they're opened."

The pieces will share the space with sculptures, installations, photography and video art by 20 contemporary artists. Dr Cappock said the project was an ideal way to showcase Ireland's diversity.

"It's a combination of Francis Bacon and contemporary artwork, so it looks at the whole idea of Irish identity. Particularly with Bacon, whose work is stratospheric and is admired internationally. He's constantly breaking records."

Francis Bacon was born in Dublin in 1909 to English parents. He left Ireland at 16 to live and work in London until his death in Madrid in 1992.

Four paintings by Bacon will be displayed at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, from February 28 to May 19.

They include works dating to the 1970s as well as an unfinished self-portrait – the artist's last piece of work before he died in 1992 which is worth more than €1m. The Huge Lane Gallery was gifted Bacon's London studio in 1998 and the entire studio – including over 7,000 items – was moved to Dublin. A total of 80 items created by Bacon will make the journey to Brussels.

Other contemporary items in the collection to be exhibited in Brussels include expressive paintings by Brian Maguire; large-scale colour photographs by Richard Mosse and Paul Seawright; and installations by Alan Phelan and Garrett Phelan.

Irish Independent

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