Bosch, Hieronymus – The Garden of Earthly Delights-Triptych

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Today I watched a very interesting BBC documentary on a painting that has always fascinated me.  It is beautiful and eerie, yet there is something peaceful and hopeful about it.  A kind of acceptance of the dance of life in humans and nature.  It pleases me to see human beings living so closely with the creatures of nature since it is the habit of the modern world to put them in such great opposition. I understand it is so close it could make someone uncomfortable to even look at it.  It seems unorderly and uncivilized.  I see there is something of the sensual pushed to its extreme in this painting, a kind of decadence run wild, while there is a kind of child-like innocence to it all.  All of the people in it are adults, there are no children yet all these adults seem so child-like to me.  It may have an element of something creepy in the garden but the creepiness is defused by the playfulness of it. What a happy thought, adults finding themselves in touch with nature and their child-like playfulness is this garden of delights.   There is a balance to the middle painting despite its chaotic nature.  I would even venture to say it is a chaos filled with intelligent design.    The people in the middle all seem to be throbbing together in a dance of celebration, of life…a desire for excess perhaps, a desire to party and be party animals…so much so that it is hard to tell who is the animal and who is the human but all the same their desire for this joy, this bliss, this ecstasy is a renewal of their child-like sensual power…it is a desire for something to free itself.  A desire for all they have been told is ugly and wrong about them to feel calm and at ease.  When I look at the middle scene of this painting there is something cathartic and healing about it.  In some way  the painting seems to give one permission to live…to know their desire for that renewal is innocent but to also realize you are no longer a child playing, you are an adult so when you set your shadow free again it may be a little creepy, it may be a bit unacceptable, it may even have a little element of something sinister but the intention is innocent, the desire for sensual freedom at heart is innocent.  These are my thoughts for the moment on the Garden of Earthly Delights.  Though I know it is a painting I could look at time and time again and see so much more in what it is telling us. If you would like to hear more amazing thoughts on this painting check out the video I am posting from the BBC, it is very insightful!  Then feel free to share your own thoughts about it.  Like the scholar on the video tells us we really know so little about what Bosch himself was thinking while he painted it so in that lack of knowing there is a freedom for our imaginations, feelings and reason to play with the images.  I would love to know where it takes you.

 

 

 

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