At irregular intervals we present here a text from anders - Journal of Psychological Morphology. It will be online for a few weeks. Today it is the column of Wilhelm Salber "Hieronymus Bosch: His garden organizes human expression" from anders 31/2017. We reproduce a drawing by the author and a detail of the painting. The original by H. Bosch hangs in the Prado. The LINK leads directly there.

William Salber
Hieronymus Bosch: His garden organizes human expression

The handling of a moving image, as it can be described as a behavioral and experiential context, is an excellent example of morphological organization as the formation of expression and form.

It is about the painting by Hieronymus Bosch, usually called the 'Garden of Delights'. The painting involves us in a simultaneity from several corners. There is a large middle piece with a lighter light side and a crowded heavy dark side. At the same time it goes off from the left, across the center width to the right, fiery and dark. Plus a circle in the middle and lots of large figures of strange flowers and surreal demons.

The simultaneity suggests to take distance, to step back, to have time to look and to describe what is on it. The moralizing with the title 'Garden of Delights' can soon be dropped. So approach once more. The centre of the picture structure pushes itself forward: the circle of a round dance is placed in a circle of earth. This is complemented by the slightly swinging ideal on the left and the right panel as the realm of darkness. This suggests a path from paradise through the world to hell. Heavenly, earthly human, demonic underworld?

It keeps spinning. To the left and in the middle, strange growths are forming. Becoming and spherical, bubbles and circles, also eggs and primordial plants could be that. In addition, however, much that at first seems diffuse, much people, unite, traffic and intersections, twists, encapsulations, incentives, stand there, close, break open, germinate, sprout. In the middle, waters. On the right, the usual strange Bosch reality of oppressive (real) impossibilities.

In the face of rash interpretations of meaning, go further along the descriptions. Back into the process that goes from circles to spheres, spheres become cones, closed things or eggs, germs of life. They become living centerpieces, bizarre plants. Open and closing, solid and water. These are all metamorphoses that can present themselves here. This is design and transformation. This is a whole in constant refractions and variations. The human world as a garden in cultivations, rearrangements, reversals, germinal and sprouting forms. The garden of the human.

In his designs, the separations of the whole jump over into one another: typically Bosch, these possible-impossible 'causalities' of the landscapes of the soul. The Garden of Humanity shows things and people as transitions, in rearrangements and twists. This simultaneity and in-between is paradoxically brought into the picture. What can come out of an egg can become head or butt. It can end in something alien or set something new on its way. What can't carry, continue, effect everything else. A fish moves so why not wheels, it has a mouth so it goes in and out like a trumpet. It can eat and be eaten, it can carry and be itself somewhere on it. Such works are active things that can develop in themselves, in that something passes into another and breaks again with it, in that it opens and closes.

Separating, uniting, shifting, enlarging, varying. As if the reality of the human is represented and measured in this way. Its paths and aberrations. If it is called hell, it sounds then as if here instruments of repetition, hollowed out, decay, killing, isolating, falling away of details from the whole are tried to be presented. We must therefore risk cultivating the garden by a work of our own (Voltaire)! This is a whole task.

Bosch paints a picture of the soul, a landscape of the soul that is lost to us. He paints it as a developing thing that shows how it can continue in shaping, in shaping and reshaping. What can shift, reverse, where it must limit itself or become free. That is what he depicts in these circles, germs and sprouts, in the spheres, in the flowing. And at the same time he puts into the picture that something can be reversed, divided, closed, outgrown, destroyed, clotted, bewitched, killed. In such processes, design continues or does not continue. But at the same time it becomes apparent what is important in the whole. The whole is the representation of the possibilities in the impossible, in which we must take sides.


From the middle part of the triptych: strange, funny cycle of life