Tuesday 12 October 2010
Whenever I encounter an exhibition of Lucien Freud's paintings - and I have been fortunate is doing this twice - I am overwhelmed by his ability to make paint into living flesh. Like alchemy, he takes paint to a place where it doesn't just reflect life, it feels as is it is living right there before your eyes.
Freud has never said much publicly, unlike his late friend Francis Bacon who loved to both talk and shock. He is a modest man who prefers to make his statements with images rather than words.
During the 1980s, Lucien Freud made a large quantity of etchings and these reiterate the purpose of his paintings: to render flesh. In the etchings he does this with hatching and cross-hatching. As in the paintings, it feels as if we are looking at breathing flesh.
In the marvellous Museum of Modern Art catalogue, Lucien Freud's Etchings, (New York, 2008) curator S. Figura quotes Lucien Freud on page 26:
"I'm really interested in people as animals. Part of liking to work from them naked is for that reason. Because I can see more; also it's very exciting to see the forms repeating right through the body and often in the head as well. I like people to look as natural and as physically at ease as animals..."