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True or Fake? Francis Bacon's 'The Tip of the Iceberg' Opens in Buenos Aires
A photo made available 04 July 2010 shows visitors look at a drawing attributed to Irish painter Francis Bacon at Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 03 July 2010. 'Francis Bacon - The tip of the iceberg' presents 40 black and white drawings attributed to Francis Bacon, which have already been exhibited in the context of the Venice Biennale 2009 and recently in Milan's Durini Foundation. The exhibition runs 30 June to 19 August 2010. EPA/LEO LA VALLE.

By: Edward Lucie-Smith and Alberto Agazzani

BUENOS AIRES.- The exhibition was organized on occasion of the 53rd Venice Biennale but it is a unique event with an extraordinary character; Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos, Aires, hosts an exhibition of drawings by Francis Bacon titled ‘The Tip of the Iceberg. Drawings by Francis Bacon’.

The exhibition – curated by the famous English art critic Edward Lucie-Smith and by Alberto Agazzani - shows a ‘corpus’ of about 20 drawings on paper of various sizes, authentically signed by Francis Bacon which portray a gallery of monstrous human characters, typical iconography of the famous Irish painter who died in 1992.

Few years ago (2003-2004) these drawings - and many others - were the subject of a trial to definitively determine their nature - true or fake? Until then, it was universally believed that Bacon did not use to draw, and if he did, it was believed that he immediately destroyed his drawings. Such statement was not entirely true and these drawings seemed to be only a part of the artistic world of Francis Bacon, ‘the tip of an iceberg’, as it was defined by David Sylvester, a Baconian art critic.

Many witnesses and experts were involved in the trial – both against or in favour of the authenticity of the drawings; in 2004 the court closed the investigation and cleared the owner of all charges, Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino - Francis Bacon’s close friend - from whom he claimed to have received the huge package of drawings. The court asserted that part of the drawings are really signed by Francis Bacon and, therefore, can not be regarded as fake.

Those authentic drawings are exhibited in Buenos Aires, but this time they will be subject to a different type of judgment: they will be judged by passionate and curious public and by those who have studied the painter and his work, by critics, art historians and collectors who have made Bacon the object of their passion.

“The strength of an image can be measured by its capacity to penetrate the eye and thereby insinuate itself into the soul of the person viewing it. - commented Alberto Agazzani, curator of the exhibition - It is like a virus that attacks a human being through his sight, softening his soul, causing an unrest for which there exists no cure. Bacon has been a major ruthless spreader of the Twentieth Century, giving visible form to monsters, to the anxieties, the monstrousness and disturbances not only of an entire era, but also of all humanity and amplifying the power to defile the mind, the infectivity through painting.”

It is very likely that the doubts on the authenticity or not of the drawings from the Lovatelli Ravarino collection will not be soothed with this exhibition, indeed. Quite the contrary, this is supposed to be an open, free and straightforward confrontation.

“While it may not lead to a certain, ironclad answer - says Professor Agazzani - it will enrich an enthralling mystery with a Venetian episode that is expected to be dense with suspense.”

Buenos Aires | Francis Bacon | Centro Cultural Borges |

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