Hieronymus Bosch (Maarten Beks) 1986
[Bruna, Utrecht, 1986, 14 pages + 49 illustrations]
In the very concise introduction that goes with the 49 colour illustrations (of very mediocre quality) Beks points out that Bosch was a moralist with a very pessimistic view on sinful humanity. As a local genius Hieronymus was a child of the past, as opposed to his Italian contemporary Leonardo da Vinci, who was rather a father of the future. Beks strongly criticizes the Bosch scholars (those from the ‘school’ of Fraenger as well as those from the ‘school’ of Bax) because during the last decades they are claimed to have paid too much attention to the deciphering of the historical and symbolic backgrounds of the paintings: as a result they have taken away the life from the works of art.
Beks’ own approach boils down to a vague mixture of psycho-analysis and alchemy that mainly focuses on the creative process. According to Beks Bosch did not paint ‘a dictionary of alchemy, his pictorial art represents an alchemical process’ [p. 13]. The visions from Bosch’s subconscious (the ineffable, the ‘mud’ from the alchemical texts) were distorted by some sort of ‘dream censorship’ into proverbs, linguistic puns and folkloristic elements resulting in a world that the artist had not created himself. If the painting is successful, then the ‘son of the king’ who is hidden in the mud (‘our unknown double’) becomes visible: in that case the painting addresses us on a level that is hard to describe, but that is related to magic, to clairvoyance.
Obviously this superficial, popularizing booklet does not break new ground.