Sunday 30 September 2012

Bosch and Freud - on Art and Madness

The rise of Renaissance started in the Low Countries – called Flanders.  Great artists appeared as the representatives of the late medieval new thinkers.  The status of artist rose from those considered as craftsman – “Mechanic artist” to a respectable free thinker, imaginative creator – “liberal Artist”.

The first of such representative was Hieronymus Bosch whose paintings of demonic figures in the guise of religious themes displayed his unbridled fantasies of the bestiality and humanity, the corruption of both human and animals, in the chaos of the world – reflecting the period in history where clashes between various continents and ideology seemed to have come to the central stage of civilization in the 15th century.  The Turkish Ottoman Empire took over the Byzantine in the 11th century and occupied S.E.Europe, the Black Death wiped out half of the European population

Bosch, artist of the 15th century, marked a point of departure from the Dark Ages to the Age of Enlightenment.  As a northerner, with his typical dark imagination, enhanced by witch’s oil (a type of drug) he found his unique style of Gothic art – grotesque but realistic figures fornicating, gorging, binge drinking, defecating at the same time… The symbolism mingled with realistic figures created an exotic background evoking nightmarish scenes, which exist neither in “Paradise” nor in “hell”.

Freud said that man who is unhappy with reality tends to go on the path of “Regression” – hoping to reverse back to the childhood dreams in order to escape the reality and such a man becomes a neurotic individual… If he possesses artistic flair, he can transform this negative force into an ability of a genius to create great art works… 

Many people in the “Dark Ages” unhappy with the way of life resorted to heresy or hermitage or in silent self-reflection to seek answers in religious meditation.  Driven by fear or guilt, or feeling of insecurity, those who would be misfits in normal social life went on pilgrimage or retreated to deep forest in remote mountains.  Those who took refuge in austere monasteries on the top of Montserrat (Franco-Spanish border), away from the rest of the world, found solace in a life of poverty, and self-punishment.  But did they find “Redemption”?

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1 comment:

  1. "La grandeur de l’art véritable, au contraire de ce que M. de Norpois eût appelé un jeu de dilettante, c’était de retrouver, de ressaisir, de nous faire connaître cette réalité loin de laquelle nous vivons, de laquelle nous nous écartons de plus en plus au fur et à mesure que prend plus d’épaisseur et d’imperméabilité la connaissance conventionnelle que nous lui substituons, cette réalité que nous risquerions fort de mourir sans avoir connue, et qui est tout simplement notre vie.” (Proust, Le temps retrouvé)