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FRANCIS BACON: SELF-PORTRAIT, 1972

Asked what I could look at, never tiring, for as long as I am blessed with sight, I might, without reflecting, answer, The night sky above the Sinai desert—but on second thought I’d have to say, The face of one I love.

The human face is my favorite landscape. If you know the face you’re watching, know it well, it cannot not show you the unseen, cannot not display devotion, pain, anxiety, its trust. Where else, on what other fabric, can you behold the shape of love, the shade of fear, the color of despair that’s not your own? What does love look like? Love looks like the face of the beloved. What does pain look like? It looks like someone in pain. The seen landscape of emotion draws on the human body and, most poignantly, because of parts achieving their expressiveness in combinations, on the face. A stranger can communicate the story of his life while sitting on a bus across from you,

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