Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Bosch



It seems perfectly natural to talk about the influence of literature and movies when talking about writing, but, for me anyway, the visual arts have also played a huge part - and continue to do so.

I have no idea when I first saw the work of Hieronymous Bosch - it would have been at school and in reproduction - but I have never ever tired of it.  Looking through the prism of painters like Dali it is easy to see him as a kind of pro to-Surrealist.  But he wasn't anything of the sort, of course.

Bosch gives us a baffling glimpse into another world where even the everyday objects are confused by historical distance.  These tools and musical instruments are taken by Bosch and put to the service of demons and strange creatures who engage in meticulously rendered but utterly perplexing dramas.  It is a world of magic - a mix of pagan and Christian mythology.

I am fascinated by the worlds he creates.  They are like a painterly form of Tourette's - Bosch just seems incapable of stopping himself painting yet another bare bottom with a flute or a flower sticking out of it.  They are vulgar and violent and very, very weird.  Like Brueghel, the painter with whom he is always linked in my mind, I go from detail to detail, always finding things I had not spotted before.

For a long time I have wanted to write something in Bosch's painted world.  I just have never come up with the right story.  One day maybe. . .

And incidentally I discovered when I was in Amsterdam that his name is not pronounced - as I've always heard it - Hi-RON-i-mus Bosh.  It is pronounced HY-ro-NAY-mus Bosk.

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