17 January 2019

Hieronymus Bosch and the delightful deliriums of his artworks

The story of  Hieronymus Bosch is the exploration of the unconscious, sins, and evil temptations through his art, made of bizarre and disturbing characters.

Master of monstrous … discoverer of subconscious.” Carl Jung.

Hieronymus Bosch lived and worked at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the town where he got his name from. We do not have many info about his life, and even less about his training. In general Bosch’s art can not be linked to any particular school, it is a very peculiar kind of art, unique, not only from the iconographic point of view, but also from the stylistic side, and painting technique. It is just a theory that one saying he got trained in a miniaturist workshop, but we do not know anything for sure. What he does concerns the generation of “a world of dreams, or better, a universe of nightmares and hallucinations, full of rampant fantastic figures”.

For Bosch sin and foolishness were “the conditions at the base of human existence and the infernal fire was the final destination for most of men”. The world of Bosch attracts and rejects, it is a world made of curious and scary characters, horrific and delirious scenes. Through bizarre visions the artist tells a story, a story made of flesh and sin, fears and perversions, made of temptations, and he tells that from his single extravagant eye. His world is shaped by febrile hallucinations, lucid dreams, and it is populated by curious creatures and disturbing inhabitants. When you find yourself in front of one of his artwork we are all immediately catapulted into his own imagination, made of terrible depictions and landscapes teeming with demons. Paradoxal and non-sense balances disorientate the viewer, which is overwhelmed by the extraordinary Bosch’s reality, and get fascinated by it.

You can look at “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, staring that detail nobody never spotted, or that reminds you something that belongs to to obscure world of fear and dreams. The feverish fantasy is without bridles in this artwork, and it unveils toward the three masterful panels. Reluctant and attractive elements invite you to get inside this artwork and you accept it. The triptych can be seen closed or open. When the doors are closed the depiction of the planet earth birth appears, here our planet is painted as a green land inside a metaphysic ball deprived of life forms. Above you see the Christ figure which observes perplexed the world to come. Opening the masterpiece we find three different episodes interpreted in Biblical key. From the left to right you find the depiction of paradise (Eden Garden), a central panel at the limit between paradise and earth (The Garden of Earthly Delights), and the Hell, named the Musical Hell. With sharp farsightedness Bosch anticipates the art movements that will destabilize the contemporary world 400 years later: surrealism first of all. Bosch is named “surrealist of the XV century” and he is the absolute precursor of this movement, In fact, like Dalì, it was thought he drew his shapes from the deep brink of psyche, probably even under the effect of some hallucinogenic substance.

He was able to tell the evil temptations, the demonic powers, the attraction toward sins, and in general, the human folly with clear ruthlessness. Bosch has got a medieval religiosity, with a contemporary forefront, a unique language in the worldwide artistic landscape. Bosch tells us about fear, temptation, dreams, flesh. His artworks are immortal and they never stop curiosity, debate, and wonder anyone, in any historical period.

di Elisa Martino – Art Curator