The idea for this triptych was born many years ago on the back pages of a sketchbook. It started with two names written beside one another: Francis Bacon and Roy Lichtenstein. It was a very simple procedure and in a matter of seconds I conceived a monster. Frankenstein was the quintessential postmodern mash-up assembled using the parts of many to redefine the whole and Baconstein would be born of the same stuff.
The concept of combining multiple art styles is not a new one. Lichtenstein himself started early in his career by appropriating comic strips and then later on tackling luminaries like Leger, Monet and Picasso. His artistic style helped redefine their conceptual content. Bacon had referenced Muybridge and Velasquez.
Both artists listed on the back page of my sketchbook have remarkable style and technique, although, their approach couldn’t be further from one another in how they depict reality. Lichtenstein painted in a very mechanical way; rendering flesh in a uniform manner, adopting the print technique of benday dots. Bacon, on the other hand, rendered flesh by splaying it open and using paint as a visceral instrument. The two seemed perfect for one another.
The two paintings I chose to use are from early in the artists’ careers, before they both reached their mature styles. Bacon’s “Painting” and Lichtenstein’s “Girl with Ball” are also close in size to one another and can both be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The final composition would be inspired by Bacon’s multiple use of the Triptych format. The first panel is the “The Monster”, then “The Bride of the Monster” and finally taking the Frankenstein reference to its extremity “Abbott and Costello meet the Monster”. Abbott and Costello could also be considered early pioneers of mashing up genres to create hybrid works.
The final piece is a digital painting using a computer and a tablet. It is an appropriation of traditional painting techniques, using multiple layers of transparent colour to build up volume. I avoided the use of filters and all images are hand drawn. This style of creating the work seemed appropriate to the content and in the end it was electricity that brought my monster to life.