The Joseph Burke Lecture 2009
Director, Heide Museum of Modern Art Dark
Theatres and Erotic Intensities: some thoughts on the
works of Bacon, Henson, Booth and Boynes
This lecture will be a further elaboration of my long standing interest in the humanist foundation of the works of many artists with whose practices I have interacted closely during my career. In this lecture I focus on the works of Francis Bacon, Bill Henson, Peter Booth and Robert Boynes as artists who were and are sensitive barometers of their times. Their works alert us to unpredictable and sometimes dire evolutions in culture by offering us images and ideas that are alternative to the mainstream.
In his 1878 treatise Human, All Too Human, Friedrich Nietzsche suggested that if ‘someone doesn’t want to see something, they won’t.’ The works of Bacon, Henson, Booth and Boynes intersect in their speculations on bodily fragility, beauty and monstrosity, and the body’s easy or alternatively uneasy location in ever-evolving landscapes and built environments. In different ways they propose a resilience of the erotic body against situations and states of conflict and social instability. The primary act of picture making gives rise to images of shadowy erotic realms (yet the erotic must not stay in the shadows), and that imagine and document some of the truths and experiences of our time.
6.30 pm Tuesday 26 May 2009 Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre, University of Melbourne