This painting moved me in a unerving way. It is a painting by the Irish artist Brian McGuire, and I saw it at the Dublin Art Gallery a few years ago.
The experience is like looking through a long tunnel or corridor type room. But it is the use of the green and yellow that conveys the feeling of an echo, fluttering like a moth, rebounding off the surface. The eye has no easy resting place and darts round the picture, instead of taking the easy way out through the tunnel. There’s a feeling of ‘waiting’: not exactly resignation. In a sense you feel that these ‘people’ or presences are not really there – and – incidentally is there really a pathway down the corridor? Is that a person sat in a chair? or indeed, a chair at all with a sheet draped over it? There is a sense of past inhabitants, passing on, leaving only their ghosts essences behind. A sort of limbo ensues.
This painting also has a voice. It echoes down this corridor: one of many voices: snatches of imperceptible conversations all vying for attention.
A few years ago, when the Tate Modern had just opened, another life changing experience occurred, this time in the Francis Bacon gallery. To see his paintings collectively is an almost psychic experience. There is such a physical force emanating from these canvasses that is beyond paint. It is alchemical, the sensation I would also liken to static electricity.
The answer is not how realistically portrayed the ‘figurative’ or recognisable the images are – but the immediacy, the direct personal contact and impact these paintings have with me. But there are differences between these experiences. Each ‘grabs’ but collectively, Bacon overwhelms.