Visions of Genius
Hieronymus Bosch – Visions of Genius, s’ Hertogenbosch, until 8 May 2016
Five hundred years on from his death, the town that spawned an unclassifiable artistic visionary and lent him its name has, through a miracle of curation and international cooperation, gathered together the larger part of Bosch’s remaining works from galleries across the world. It took the organisers ten years to bring their dream to fruition. The result is of course a European ‘hit’ show, which has entered the mainstream and caught the public imagination across the continent. Needless to say the Bosch exhibition sold out and on the week day I visited was heaving with European art pilgrims anxious to get close to Bosch flagships The Haywain, The Last Judgement or The Garden of Earthy Delights plus a plethora of lesser known works.
We are used to popular London exhibitions resembling processing factories, as a seemingly unlimited number of bodies are funnelled in. We think it a necessary sufferance to shuffle through cramped rooms pressed against each other, muttering apologies for personal space infractions, each individual straining to maintain a private dialogue with the artworks. The Bosch exhibition unfortunately suffered the same problem. However, despite the crowds, the atmosphere was hushed and reverential. The tone of the lighting in the velvety dark interior of the museum was so brilliantly executed that it endowed the works with even greater gravitas and spiritual aura, so one had a real sense of something special occurring here, a unique moment which would not be repeated, like the Grünewald exhibition which miraculously occurred in Colmar and Karlsruhe in 2010. Furthermore, the religious tenor of Bosch’s work enhanced the sanctified air, as if one were moving through the darkness of a cathedral crypt to the next chapel containing its candlelit wonder.