By Lynn Brunet
The artist Francis Bacon (1909-1992) and the author Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) either exhibit of their paintings a feeling of foreboding and confinement in bleak, ritualistic areas. This e-book identifies many similarities among the areas and actions they evoke and the initiatory practices of fraternal orders and mystery societies that have been an essential component of the social panorama of the eire skilled through either males in the course of childhood.
Many of those Irish societies modelled their ritual constructions and symbolism at the Masonic Order. Freemasons use the time period ‘spurious Freemasonry’ to designate these rituals no longer sanctioned by way of the Grand hotel. The Masonic writer Albert Mackey argues that the spurious kinds have been these derived from a number of the cult practices of the classical global and describes those initiatory practices as ‘a process critical and hard trials’. This interpreting of Bacon’s and Beckett’s paintings attracts on theories of trauma to indicate that there's a anxious hyperlink among Bacon’s stark imagery, Beckett’s vague performances and the unofficial use of Masonic rites.
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Extra resources for 'A Course of Severe and Arduous Trials': Bacon, Beckett and Spurious Freemasonry in Early Twentieth-Century Ireland (Reimagining Ireland)
Orangemen are distinguished by their dress, which they proudly wear during the Twelfth of July marches that commemorate William’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne. This includes a dark business suit, bowler hat, black umbrella and an orange sash. Men in dark business suits are scattered throughout Bacon’s paintings such as in Study for Portrait, 1953, Three Studies of the Human Head, 1953 and Two Seated Figures, 1979. 23 The central figure in Painting, 1946, discussed previously as evocative of a sacrificial tableau, has his head partially hidden under a black umbrella and in a second version done in 1971 the figure has a bowler hat on his lap.
His many portraits in particular portray fragmented faces as if they have been damaged, shot or mutilated. In Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer, 1969, each of the three portraits contains a depiction of a hole in the face that could suggest a bullet hole. His series of self-portraits Three Studies for Self-Portrait, 1974, and a similar series in 1976 depict his own face distorted and include black oval spaces at various points on the faces that appear to be a response to the oval form of the nanny’s glasses in The Battleship Potemkin.
In the triptych Studies of the Human Body, 1970, the three panels are set on an orange background, with the centre panel containing a mating couple on the top of a round grass-coloured bed. 110 A round dais of this colour may have been a way of representing, in an interior ritual space, the sacred grassy mounds or 34 Chapter One tumuli scattered throughout Ireland. 112 Bacon’s written reference to the carpeted bed of crime in the centre of the circular room and his visual representations of coupling figures on round beds suggests a further connection between ritual aberrations and ancient pagan concepts.