Artist: Hieronymus Bosch
Year: Early 1500’s
Type: Triptych, painting
Medium: Oil on wood
Where: Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
Why: I can’t remember how I first came across Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights but it is an absolute masterpiece of the bizarre. As one glances across its three, increasingly weird inner-panels, there’s a sense that the artist’s delivered on a strikingly original vision. The twisted candy-coloured structures, giant animals, frolicking-then-suffering nudes, and disturbingly creative tortures are all far from images the phrase ‘religious art’ normally conjures. But they are spectacular in their oddness. The third panel in itself is a veritable ‘Where’s Wally’ of horrors on acid.
The reason I love this work has nothing to do with its subject matter. Instead it’s because I absolutely adore the level of imagination that’s been trapped in its brushstrokes. Instantly a viewer can grasp the tone of each panel and interpret a message. However there’s still just so much going on, everywhere. This artwork is a truly unique representation of a range of deep human desires and fears common to all of us. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this artwork in person yet; I really hope I do some day. It’s both nothing like other art and exactly what all art is.
– Jack Lowe