Vi­sions of Ge­nius

The London Magazine - - WILL STONE -

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.

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