Frank Auerbach – a sketch

Frank Auerbach
Frank Auerbach – self-portrait

Frank Auerbach – a sketch

An artist sees
          and listens
and listening sees
          the unseen
and vision becomes speech
          and speech becomes
lines and strokes and swathes 
           of chalk and charcoal
delicately smudged
          with the tip of the finger
turning the darkness into light
          and listening all the time
to what is seen and
          seeing all the time
what is heard
          applying the alphabets
of sound and shape
          dividing the darkness
with fragments of light
          seizing the energies
of expression and posture
          driven by the instinctive
desire to uncover the truthness
          the emotional hardcore truth
that lies behind the mask
          of careless inattention
or superficial appraisal :
          more than in dialogue
with the subject
          the artist teases identity
out into the open
          with gentle interrogations
striving constantly to achieve
          an ultimate rendering
not an essence
          not a resumé
not a replica
          neither a duplicate
simply a completeness
          of visual presence
that stands and speaks
          for itself

John Lyons

The Frank Auerbach Exhibition at Tate Britain in Pimlico, runs until 13 March 2016. Unmissable.


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