6 January 2008

Hieronymus Bosch and his Fantasy Art

In all books about art and all the books about fantasy art Hieronymus Bosch is mentioned as the father of surrealist art and the Fantasy Art genre. All those monsters, impossible structures of the machines and the bizarre landscapes he painted in his works, are a great example of Fantasy Art. His style was unique, strikingly free, and his symbolism, unforgettably vivid, remains unparalleled to this day.

Indeed Bosch had a tremendous fantasy or maybe even a tremendous fear of hell. Hieronymus took his work very seriously and absolutely not as an amusement. Marvellous and terrifying, he expressed an intense pessimism and reflected the anxieties of his time, one of great social and political upheaval.

It was his image of hell, his tragic view of human existence, dwelling upon the triumph of sin that forced him to paint all the horror. He was a very religious person and believed in hell, devils, monsters, life after death and all the other things that were ordinary and standard for the inhabitant of Catholic Europe in the XV and early XVI century.

He didn’t want to entertain people, he wanted to frighten them with his bizarre fantasy. I think the man himself must have been very morbid to have been so concerned with pain.

In 1488 he joined the highly respected Brotherhood of Our Lady, an arch-conservative religious group of some 40 influential citizens of 's-Hertogenbosch and some 7000 'outer-members' from all over Europe. Bosch lived at a time when the medieval period was giving way to a new age. His paintings undoubtedly reflect his concern for a changing world. Looked at in this way Bosch and his fantasies are curiously up to date.

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