Misfits of the Metaverse #5 [Francis Bacon & the Death of George Dyer], by Eric Wayne. Digital painting 4,000×6874 px, 2/22/2022.

This is one of my favorite works I’ve produced. It’s a tour de force of “painterly” digital painting [using techniques I developed]; addresses art history and the human condition; is an homage to Francis Bacon; and continues the tradition of modernist figurative painting into the digital era.There’s also quite a story behind this, which you will want to stick around for. And like #3 in the series [see below] when I finished it, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. And as I said about that piece, an artist savoring his own work is no more surprising or conceited than a chef devouring his own culinary creation.

Misfits of the Metaverse #3, by Eric Wayne, 1/2022.

I really got into this my new piece towards the end when I started experimenting with new digital painting techniques of my own devising.

As far as know, nobody can do digital impasto like I do. This isn’t a filter. It’s a brush stroke — one of thousands that make up the image — and is only possible because of years I’ve spent tinkering with possibilities that the respective software programs weren’t even designed for. Even if I did video tutorials on my techniques, you have to be an artist who is competent at painting to use them, just like you need to be to do analog painting.

The splatter technique [below] is also new. Francis Bacon would fling paint at the canvas, and so I devised a digital simulation that would give some of the same effect.

Stop and observe my treatment of the suit, collar, and tie here. I did it with overlapping broad knife strokes to suggest the shapes, rather than illustration them. Bacon would have approved.

Let me throw out a couple noble ideas about art that probably get sidelined by the deluge of pungent bovine excrement that passes for artistic judgement in the very present.

1) Art is about exploration and discovery.

2) Art is a conversation with God. [OK, I know that sounds ridiculous, but you need an equal force to pull you out of the hole of art being a product to sell to a buyer.]

Both are overstatements in that they don’t apply to all art, and “God” here is a bit of a metaphor. But I think they are very useful ideas to keep in mind when art is constantly delimited as a commodity the worth of which is determined by likes, retweets, and sales price [spoiler: from that perspective this whole series is moldy refuse].

I start getting excited about making art when I try new things, and I don’t know what is going to happen. I’m advised to stick to one style, for marketing purposes, and while this is very sound advice, as with almost all advice artists are given, it is a prescription for committing oneself to being second rate. How can I stick to one style and explore new possibilities of making imagery?

My solution is to work in limited series in which I maintain something that unifies all the works. This is number 5 in a planned series of 6 painterly digital portraits exploring the human condition in the time of the “metaverse”.

Above, you can see my more traditional brush and palette knife work on the face. And that eye? We will return to it. Just in case I forget to mention this, part of what I’m trying to do with the realism is bring out the power of photography while accentuating it will painting to give it more visceral and even emotional presence.

The story

I am depicting Francis Bacon during the opening of his retrospective at the Grand Palais, in Paris, 1971. He is talking with Georges Pompidou, standing next to “Three Figures in a Room [1964]” which the French state had just bought, and includes a portrait of his lover, George Dyer sitting on a toilet.

Three Figures in a Room, 1964, by Francis Bacon. Sorry for the crappy reproduction, but this is not that popular of one of his images, perhaps because of the presence of a toilet.

Francis is forced to talk about the painting with the French president knowing that George Dyer is dead in his hotel room (suicide or overdose) in the exact same position, which he had not reported to the police because it would compromise his show. I combined that painting of George on the toilet with the one Bacon painted in ‘73, in memory of George, and repainted it in his style, then incorporated my own techniques on top.

Mine is mostly based on the first version, but there are subtle intimations of the second, future version.

Bacon is in my top 3 favorite 20th century painters, and I don’t presume to judge him.

Read my defense of Francis Bacon here: In Defense of Artist, Francis Bacon

What strikes me here is the incredible circumstance Bacon was in, and that his façade was captured on film while his spirit recoiled just beneath the surface.

I’ve wanted to make this painting ever since February of 2018, when I saw the documentary about Bacon, “A Brush With Violence”. It was for me the most startling confluence of events in a life filled with them. In the video, art critic & Bacon biographer, Mark Stevens states:

It’s a hell of a thing to not report a dead body. Whether that was Bacon’s idea, you can’t be sure. You know? I mean, it looks like maybe that’s what happened, but it’s still a hell of a thing. I mean, that’s a crime.

~ Mark Stevens, art critic & Bacon biographer

While the critic is discussing this shocking incident in the annals of art history, video footage of Bacon at the opening is playing. This was the inspiration for my eventual homage. Below is a screen shot from the film.

When I first watched the film, I thought I could see behind Bacon’s act, and that his inner turmoil was apparent in subtle facial expressions and tension in his eyes. But when I came back to find the imagery, it didn’t seem as apparent. I might have been imagining it.

Read my film review of “A Brush With Violence” here: Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Francis Bacon, in HD

And so in the painting, I tried to imbue the portrait(s) with some of that underlying tragedy.

At first they look like they are smiling, but it’s very transparent. The turning head is gazing at George on the toilet, and I smeared the paint on both eyes in that direction. The far left eye is connected to George by the trajectory of subtle streaks of paint.

I don’t know how much of a difference it made, but I thought his left eye in the video revealed some of his inner condition, and hence painted it with that specifically in mind.

It’s the reflection of light perhaps that gives Bacon a quality of being vulnerable, and then how it illuminates the inner side of his eye and brings out more of an orange color. I accentuated that, but whether or not anyone else pics up on it, I have no idea.

The whole picture, I hope, conveys some of the feeling of the story, horrific as it is. The splattered dots on the lower right, his jawline, and the upper left are a device he used to imply gun shot, gratuitous violence, and existential randomness in his art.

Francis Bacon’s use of splattered paint.

I only chose to very directly imitate Bacon’s style in the segment depicting George. For the rest I used my own style(s). I didn’t want the painting to be a faux-Bacon, but a tribute. As I mentioned before, I wanted the power of photography, accentuated by realist painting, but juxtaposed with very over-the-top swirls of paint that seem to float on top of the painting.

The blue-red-grey swirls of paint are intended to suggest the brain, and the more feathery brush strokes whipping to the left the movement of consciousness.

The image is large, and you can zoom into some fine details. It will make a high quality print.

I haven’t chosen what person I want to use for number 6. It’s going to be a woman, because I only have one so far. I will likely go with a non-existent person as I did with the first three.

~ Don’t touch that dial!

Almost forgot. If you want to watch “A Brush With Violence” here it is. Great insight into Bacon’s work, but, uh, his life is disturbing. While he is probably my favorite 20th century artist — because he is truly great — I’m not advocating his lifestyle, but neither do I presume to judge it. I’ve queued the video to the part about George Dyer being dead in the hotel while Bacon is talking to the president of France during his retrospective. That few minutes are definitely worth watching, and if you like you can rewind to the beginning.

I am not currently selling NFTs of this image.

Read my defense of Francis Bacon here: In Defense of Artist, Francis Bacon

Read my film review of “A Brush With Violence” here: Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Francis Bacon, in HD

And if you like my art or criticism, please consider chipping in so I can keep working until I drop. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). See how it works here.

Or go directly to my account.


Or you can make a one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).


One thought on “New Art: Misfits of the Metaverse #5 [Francis Bacon & the Death of George Dyer]

  1. I agree with you – this is the best of this series so far! What a fascinating backstory. It was amazing to see all of the techniques and your thoughts that went into this work. It gave me even more of an appreciation for the art. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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