Slipping inside the mind of Hieronymus Bosch

The Garden of Earthly Delights, LEA 12, March 2014
The Garden of Earthly Delights, LEA12, March 2014

There have been some ambitious art installations displayed at the LEA; some have been elaborate, some have been fantastical, some have been immersive, some have been mysterious, some have been slightly disturbing, and some have been challenging to the eye and to the mind.

At LEA12, as a part of the Artist in Resident series, theoxyz (Thomm Pye) combines all of the above, from ambitious undertaking through to challenging the eye and the mind, as he seeks to present a 3D interpretation of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.

The Garden of Earthly Delights, LEA 12, March 2014
The Garden of Earthly Delights, LEA12, March 2014

The painting, dating from between 1490 and 1510, is regarded as Bosch’s most ambitious complete work, and one which experts and commentators have struggled to interpret over the centuries.

A triptych in form, the original comprises a central square panel with a rectangular “wing” on either side, each of which is hinged to close over the main panel. When closed, these show a grisaille painting of the biblical Creation. When open, the side panels offer two distinct images, the one on the left showing God presenting Eve to Adam, and the one to the right depicting the torments of hell.

The Garden of Earthly Delights, LEA 12, March 2014
The Garden of Earthly Delights, LEA12, March 2014

It is the central, square panel which forms the main focus for the LEA12 installation, and it is also the panel which has caused the most debate among scholars as to its intended meaning. It is believed that the painting is designed to be read from left to right, and so the central panel has most frequently been interpreted as a warning of the perils of temptation. However, it is also seen as possible representation of paradise lost.

Within LEA12, the major elements from this central panel are represented, but so to are elements form the other two panels (perhaps most noticeably the panel on the right), all of which come together to provide a unique interpretation of the original, which is not in any way intended to be an accurate reproduction, as theoxyz points out in the welcoming notes.

There are two structures within the installation which are not a direct part of any interpretation of the painting. The first, reached via steps leading up from the piece, presents a copy of the Bosch’s triptych together with theoxyz’s own interpretation of its meaning, and which also includes pictures of some of the elements of the original alongside images of their representations within the installation. Follow a glass walkway to the second structure, a dome set above a part of the work, and you’ll find links to additional resources about the painting, including a BBC documentary.

The Garden of Earthly Delights, LEA 12, March 2014
The Garden of Earthly Delights, LEA12, March 2014

As noted above, theoxyz indicates that the installation is not intended to be a 3D representation of Bosch’s original piece, but rather a reflection of the painting’s surrealist atmosphere. This is something which is, to my mind at least, achieved in spades.

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