We first meet it in the faces of others. They peer intently—as solo viewers, in small gaggles, and then crowds suggestive of throngs. Almost stern gazes break into secret smiles leaking out. Fingers begin to point. Heads begin to cock…
The it they are studying is the triptych painting by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS, created around the turn of the 16th Century. The they studying the painting becomes a parade of notables in modern day culture, interspersed with commentary by diverse experts shedding light that stems from their respective wheelhouses—religion, neuroscience, art historians, and more.
One comments with a smile that when Bosch created this work he was competing with God. Turkish author Orhan Pamuk – who among other credits has created an entire museum to collect artifacts owned by the imagined personalities in his novel The Museum of Innocence— talks about the painting’s “personality”. Soprano Renee Fleming finds the music score in a small section and sings it. Author Salman Rushdie notes the chaos in the canvas and dubs it “contemporary”. We meet an X-ray informed art restorer who shares her admiration for Bosch’s brush strokes, and his secret family formula for paint passed on through the generations. We meet a neuroscientist taking us on a CT scan tour of a dreamer’s brain.
We also see the festive phantasmagoria Bosch created come alive in a yearly Bosch parade, reminding this writer of an ancient pagan festival held yearly in Southern Italy. We learn of how bible and nature were the two books of the times, and how this painting’s sponsor was presumably keen to use it as a primer for his sons on the ways of the world. We learn the word polysemy- explaining how everyone then was quite used to multiple meanings in the memes of their time.
OVID.tv Presents Film that Should be THE Primer on Art Appreciation
And more, and more, and more—without a minute’s lag in our attention! In this writer’s view, Director José Luis López-Linares’ 90-minute film has a stimulating and engaging breadth comparable to that of its subject. We see not one focal point, but rather an explosion of points of view. If you linger too long in one spot you miss the panorama. If you just take in the panorama, you are bereft of delighting in the hidden-in-plain-sight cornucopia of Bosch’s vision. You too may end up watching the film a second time, and finding it even richer in the return trip.
About the Author:
Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.
Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.