|The Garden of Earthly Delights, Centre Panel.|
Bosch's imagination is rich and endlessly inventive, his combination and juxtaposition of incongruous elements ingenious.
|Hours of eyeball enjoyment for the whole family!|
|Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.|
Symbolism is everywhere: bagpipes stand in for penis and scrotum, animal hybrids for sin and demons, arrows for sexual intercourse, games and cards for gambling.
|Music butt. I am so getting this tattoo.|
|Dude! Don't sign that contract! It's eeeeeevil!|
|Bosch demon (in)action figures!|
|I don't want to even know what his sin was.|
|Admittedly no birds flying out his butt. And it isn't on fire. I'm working up to it.|
His iconography is so rich and deep that much is still argued over. Bosch left no essays to be pegged beside his work, leaving future generations to ponder idly and speculate over his possible heresy.
His paintings are so dense, so populated with symbolism and meaning, they're like a complete graphic novel in only three panels. Each painting contains the essay, if only we knew how to read.
The Garden of Earthly Delights was first reviewed in 1605 by Jose De Siguenza, and described as "a satirical comment on the same and sinfulness of mankind." That's understatement. It's one of the most remarkable paintings in history.
Bosch was the first to really let loose. He created such a vibrant, no holds barred playground of moralizing absurdity it's never been surpassed. Bat shit insane falls short of describing it. This is lunacy on speed, moralism powered by crack, propelled by irrepressible creative genius and channeled by pitch black medieval symbolism. This is originality. Dreamscape surrealism five hundred years ahead of its time. He'd have made one hell of a comix book artist. Better than even Batman comics.
With the graphic novel Hell Lost I tried to harness at least a small fraction of his visual innovation. It's a satirical look at the infernal realm, revealing the terrible, absurd truth about hell.
|Can you spot the Bosch character?|
|Surreal landscape in Hell Lost. A bit Dali, a bit Bosch.|
How can you not love such wildly impressive work? He even has demon bunnies!
|I knew bunnies were evil.|
So does Melissa Huang.
And Wikipedia is no slouch on the subject, either.
|Temptation of Saint Anthony|