The final days of Francis Bacon in Madrid, in keeping with the poetic fiction of Fernando Beltrán | Culture | EUROtoday

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At the age of 82, on April 28, 1992, the painter Francis Bacon died in Madrid. He went to the Ruber clinic for a coronary heart situation, and it was a shock: it was not recognized that he was within the metropolis. “Asthmatic, Francis Bacon died of heart failure, agitated by difficult breathing, with his lungs fatally deteriorating at the end of his life. He painted less and less and every day the root of his skepticism became more accentuated, at the end of his life,” journalist Juan Cruz wrote then on this newspaper.

This shocking reality now serves Fernando Beltrán (Oviedo, 67 years outdated), one of the vital acknowledged poets on the modern Spanish scene, the rapt poet whose eyes water when he recites, the one who greatest squeezes the hearts of the general public, to string a small poetic, cerebral, very heartfelt novel, the place one displays on “the abyss and the beauty” of inventive creation: Bacon sin Bacon (Árdora Editions). It is his first expertise in narrative, however it’s a narrative that’s nearly a poem about this Bacon, who was not a star of the rock n’ rollhowever “a star of cadmium orange and devastation,” as Beltrán writes.

The British painter, of Irish origin, wayward just like the eternal curls that fell on his brow, didn’t need any funeral ceremony or any act of inventive recognition, as he defined in his will. Now Beltrán, writer of poems corresponding to The incredible week, Hotel Living or the torrential The coronary heart doesn’t die (all revealed in Hiperión), with whom he shares the initials FB (one thing that’s poetically famous within the textual content), he dialogues in his creativeness with the rapt artist and fictionalizes elements of these final solitary days within the capital, the place he most likely went to say goodbye to his lover. , towards the recommendation of medical doctors (though this element will not be mentioned within the work).

Francis Bacon pictured in Paris on September 29, 1987.
Francis Bacon pictured in Paris on September 29, 1987.Raphael GAILLARDE (Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images)

“I received Bacon's slap,” says the poet, referring to the primary time he noticed his work. “If Bacon doesn't make you uncomfortable, you haven't understood anything,” he provides. For Beltrán, Bacon tells us concerning the “fatal destiny of the human condition, the brutality of the events, the decay of the body, of life, which ends badly.” After these first virulent contacts, the connection between the Asturian poet and the British poet's work was reaffirmed when the previous took a prepare from Madrid to go to the latter's exhibition, which opened on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in 2016.

“Interestingly, that morning the exhibition was empty, so I was able to be alone with the artist,” he remembers. And, in fact, from “the sum of passion and obsession” the textual content started to emerge in spurts, centered on that enigmatic solitary go to of Bacon to Madrid, which led to his dying, accompanied, as Beltrán refers, by a nun to whom that I didn't know. “He, the great atheist!” says the writer. Bacon was additionally a lover of Spanish tradition and, in fact, hooked on the work of Goya and Velázquez that’s exhibited within the Prado Museum (from Seville he coated, much more terrifyingly, the portrait of Pope Innocent X).

The salvation of metaphors

Beltrán skilled the identical loneliness that Bacon skilled, additionally on the sting of the abyss, additionally in a hospital; It was early April 2020, when the coronavirus disaster was claiming extra lives. One week admitted and 56 days convalescing at house. “I saw a lot of people die around me, and people who in principle were better off than me,” he remembers. That's the place he noticed his initials on a chunk of paper, FB, and realized they had been the identical as Francis Bacon's. He was approaching on April 28: the day the painter had died. “I thought maybe he was destined to die on the same date as Francis Bacon,” he remembers.

He received forward due to his immune system and medical care, but additionally to Chet Baker's jazz, his poetic have a look at the sunshine that got here in each morning (it meant one other day alive) and the statement of the matted blackbirds that perched on window. That didn’t stop him from shock post-traumatic feeling that the expertise left him: it took him many months to cease having nightmares concerning the hospital. “I was saved by metaphors,” he says.

On the left, Portrait of Innocent X, by Velázquez, dated 1650 and exhibited in the Doria Pamphili Gallery in Rome.  On the right, the Study for the Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velázquez, by Francis Bacon, dated 1953 and exhibited at the Des Moines Art Center
On the left, Portrait of Innocent X, by Velázquez, dated 1650 and exhibited within the Doria Pamphili Gallery in Rome. On the fitting, the Study for the Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velázquez, by Francis Bacon, dated 1953 and exhibited on the Des Moines Art Center

In Beltrán's novel, now pure fiction, Bacon takes a taxi that takes him to the unsuitable place, a seedy tavern, in a basement close to the Manzanares River. A really applicable setting given his popularity as a tough drinker and bohemian. “The basement as a metaphor for the inner fire of creation,” the poet explains. There the painter finds that fiery inspiration for certainly one of his well-known triptychs: on one facet, a pair kisses in a darkish nook of the bar; On the opposite facet, a lonely drunk on the bar, staring into area; In the center, the outdated painter, sick, additionally misplaced. It will likely be his final triptych.

In the work, of a fragmentary nature, slightly than occasions occurring, ideas occur, which zigzag within the painter's thoughts and on the paper (generally distantly paying homage to the prosody of the Nobel Prize winner Jon Fosse, though with out a lot obsession), and that generally combine with these of the writer himself, who enters and leaves the textual content, like a wierd demiurge. Sometimes the protagonist voice realizes that he’s being dealt with by an exterior narrator, and complains about this “strange narrator, infamous goliard” who pulls his tongue, making the most of his final days. Some camouflaged verse from the poet even infiltrates Bacon's voice, solely evident to these most educated concerning the Asturian's work: “The dog that bit our leg, and was to support the life that would come later”, first appeared within the poem The rubbish truck.

An inside monologue, coming from a Beyond from which the painter remembers his existence, the place completely different points are mentioned: the character of artwork, the difficulties of explaining inspiration and which means in discourse (“I don't perceive portray, I solely paint “says the main voice, which always searches, without success, the right word of Flaubert), the odious commodification of bacon; of course, life, love and death. For example, childhood traumas, the acceptance of his homosexuality or the loss of a lover. “Bacon is the most disturbing painter of the 20th century,” says Beltrán, “and for me poetry is disturbance.”

Fernando Beltrán, poet, photographed at his home in Madrid on March 8, 2024.
Fernando Beltrán, poet, photographed at his home in Madrid on March 8, 2024. Claudio Alvarez

“What is your father?” they once asked one of Fernando Beltrán's daughters. “Poet and namer,” she replied. That is another of Beltrán's trades, that discipline of which he was a pioneer in Spain and which was later called we (a term that Beltrán does not like). His studio was called The Name of Things, and thus created well-known brands: Faunia, La Casa Encendida, Amena, Opencor, Rastreator, Aliada. He once named the first three steps of a staircase: come in, ancle y at home. Perhaps it was Beltrán who first inspired the care for names, poetry and ingenuity, an ingenuity that in these times already seems to be overwhelmed when it comes to naming. Another of his jobs is that of the architect of the Aula de las Metáforas, a library and poetic space in the Asturian town of Grado, where his family comes from, and through which names such as Amancio Prada, Luis Eduardo Aute or Víctor Manuel have passed, always at the service of astonishment in poetry.

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