Chapter 1 The Round Area, the Ring
What is the round area? The area occupied by the figure. The figure might be seated, lying down, doubled over or in some other position. Bacon creates compositions in which the figures are placed in relation to this round area – a kind of amphitheatre.
This is a technique used to isolate the figure. Bacon also uses shapes and forms to isolate the figure such as his famous cubes:
These spaces/areas do not confine the subject to immobility. Rather, they render a sense of movement and progression: the figure relates to the space and becomes an image. Isolating the Figure is important as it avoids the figurative, illustrative and narrative character the Figure would necessarily have if it were not isolated. Rather than abstraction, Bacon moves toward the purely figural. Figurative (representation) implies the relationship of an image to an object that it is supposed to illustrate, as well as the relationship of an image to other images in a composite whole which assigns a specific object to each of them. Deleuze argues that narration is the correlate of illustration – when the image is intended to represent an object, narration occurs. Isolation of the Figure is a technique to break with representation – to disrupt narration and liberate the Figure.
Figuration – the figural – is Deleuze’s description for Bacon’s isolated figures. They are wrenched from narration and free from the things-in-the-world that they represent (Figuration). This may be a source of the horror and the disturbance that these images project.
My research: my take away from this thinking on Bacon is the isolation and the sense that the task is to separate the Figure from representation. Being that Epstein asserted that photogenie enhances the moral dimension of a thing-in-the-world, I would alter this to say that photogenie is the enhancement of the moral dimension of the image-in-the-world – it is less about representation and the narrative that representation implies. In the same way that a gun is no longer a gun, a Figure is no longer figurative.
Bacon distinguishes three fundamental elements in his painting: material structure, the round contour, and the raised image. Deleuze explains this as the field operating as a ground, and the Figure functioning as a form, on a single plane that is viewed at close range. This coexistence of two immediately adjacent sectors constitutes an absolutely closed and revolving space.
Deleuze is outlining a simple framework for the discussion of the figure in Bacon’s painting. This chapter is a set up – groundwork – for broader analysis to follow.