Portrait of Lucian Freud on Orange Couch, Francis Bacon
1965, Oil on canvas
If you compare him to Lucian Freud, say, it's obvious that Freud is the more technically accomplished painter. He can read what he sees, and render it. Bacon couldn't do that. If you look at the feet in his paintings, they're bloody awful. He can't do boots. [Laughs] But it's so bloody powerful. His work always veers into the imagination. There's always this raw, dark power, this visceral energy that is compelling. The paint is alive.(...)
I was obsessed with him as a young painter. I was into punk and I was into Bacon. He was out there on his own. You had the Surrealists, the Impressionists, the Pointillists and all the other ists, and you had Bacon. I gave up painting at 15 because of him. I was just doing bad Bacons. I saw his work and I stopped wanting to be a painter. I stepped aside into sculpture. I've gone back lately, though. For the last two years I've been in the shed slapping paint on canvas. Big and small paintings. Skulls, crows, tryptichs. Dark blue. Baconesque. He's a supreme colourist. Beautiful colours. He seduces you with colour.
I have five Bacons now. They'll end up in the Manor [Hirst's country estate in Toddington]. I have one on the wall by the TV. I watch it more than I watch the TV. You can't not look at it. It demands your attention, pulls you in. It's just unbelievable to me that I own them.(...)