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EXHIBITION: Pariah Genius: John Deakin, The Psychobiography of a Photographer

EVENT: EXHIBITION: Pariah Genius: John Deakin, The Psychobiography of a Photographer

DATE: 26th April 2024 - 24th May 2024

TIME: 10AM to 5PM Monday to Saturday

VENUE: Swedenborg House Gallery



‘…an engrossing, utterly unique portrait of a man who some felt was a fallen angel, and others, the devil himself.’ (CHEERIO)

Curated by the great London writer Iain Sinclair, Pariah Genius: John Deakin, The Psychobiography of a Photographer presents a rare and unique opportunity to see original prints by Deakin once owned by Francis Bacon plus works by Jock McFadyen, Susan Stenger and Anonymous Bosch. Staged in conjunction with the launch of Sinclair’s new book, published by CHEERIO Publishing, the exhibition also includes original archival materials and research notebooks by Sinclair, plus a series of evening events involving John Christie, Francisco Garcia, Stewart Lee, Jock McFadyen, Alan Moore and John Rogers. Organized in partnership with CHEERIO Publishing and London Review Bookshop.

“Loaned 17 magnificent albums by the Deakin Archive, a mysterious process was put in train. The dead man took over the story, dictating his posthumous terms, and setting me to work untangling his complexities and confusions. The confirmed pariah status. And the singular and debatable genius.” —IAIN SINCLAIR


ANONYMOUS BOSCH is a photographer, cinematographer and filmmaker. He is known for his work on Sea Fever (2012), By Our Selves (2015) Aisling Sheòrais Mhicdhòmhnaill (George Macdonald’s Dreams) (2015) and The Whalebone Box (2019).

JOHN DEAKIN was an artist and photographer perhaps best known for his work documenting the Soho art scene of the 1950s and 60s. Deakin photographed artists including Frank Auerbach, Lucien Freud, Eduardo Palozzi and Francis Bacon, indeed some of Bacon’s most famous paintings were based on the photographs of Deakin. Deakin worked for several magazines in the 1940s and 50s, including Vogue and The Observer, but he died impoverished and largely unknown in 1972, with his work only gaining wider recognition in the decades following his death.

JOCK MCFADYEN is an artist who lives and works in London, Edinburgh and France. In 2012 he was elected to the Royal academy and has staged major exhibitions at places including the Imperial War Museum, London; City Art Centre, Edinburgh; and The Lowry, Salford. Jock’s work is held in 30 public collections around the UK and his publications have featured collaborations with writers including Howard Jacobson, Will Self and Iain Sinclair.

SUSAN STENGER is a musician and sound artist who has toured with John Cale, Nick Cave and Siouxsie Sioux (as part of The Creatures), in addition to being a co-founding member of the alt rock group Band of Susans. She has collaborated with Iain Sinclair on several films and with Alan Moore during their Aldeburgh Residency.


IAIN SINCLAIR has lived in and written about London since 1969. A renowned poet, essayist and writer of fiction, his novels include Downriver, for which he won the James Tait Black Prize and the Encore Prize, and Dining on Stones which was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize.

CHEERIO PUBLISHING is an eclectic, independent publishing imprint and production company launched in 2020 in association with The Estate of Francis Bacon. They commission innovative books and films that confound received ideas and open the door to new perceptions, aiming to bring unusual books to a mainstream audience. In the spirit of Francis Bacon’s work, CHEERIO are here to intrigue, disturb and thrill. They have published works by Jeremy Deller, DBC Pierre, Ingrid Swenson and Sarah Fletcher, amongst others.

IMAGE CREDITS (from top) and thanks

Lead image: Untitled (photograph of Bacon, Freud Auerbach, Andrews and Berens at Wheeler’s, 1962). © John Deakin. Reproduced by kind permission of the John Deakin Archive/James Moores.

John Deakin (1912-1972), Portrait of Francis Bacon, c. 1962, Gelatin silver print, Framed: 64 x 51.5 cm © The Estate of Francis Bacon.

Painting of Harry Diamond by Jock McFadyen © Jock McFadyen.

John Deakin (1912-1972), Lucian Freud on Bed, c. 1964, Gelatin silver print 29.7 x 30.3 cm © The Estate of Francis Bacon.

With special thanks to CHEERIO, the Estate of Francis Bacon, Jeff Towns and John Christie.