The Kick-About #75 ‘The Garden Of Earthly Delights’

Our previous Kick-About together was inspired by the organic, floating vessels of Ruth Asawa, exemplars of restraint. Much less so, the teeming visual motifs characterising Bosch’s extraordinary three-act painting, a maximalism of symbols, detail and hybridity. Bosch’s garden has made for a fertile stomping ground for these latest works made in a short time. Welcome to the party – and for all previous editions of The Kick-About, find them compiled right here.

Charly Skilling

“I can’t help wondering what the people around Bosch thought of this painting; family, apprentices, neighbours etc.  I suspect there must have been quite a few raised eyebrows, disapproving looks, perhaps one or two lascivious leers.  But the painting has survived, and been treasured, for over 500 years. You wonder how it would be received if it had been painted today? 

Although Bosch was in middle age and beyond when he painted his Garden of Earthly Delights, I tried to envisage a scene where Bosch’s mother was called in to have one of those chats at his school, when Bosch, as a young boy, first began to show signs of his artistry…”

Kerfe Roig

“I decided to explore the architecture in the Garden…” /

Tom Beg

“When I was a student I made an animation based on The Garden of the Earthly Delights, which now, much to my embarrassment ,is posted on numerous places on the internet and still gets the odd random YouTube comment. Looking at it now, it’s clearly the work of someone still trying to understand the esoteric world of computer animation software with mistakes and oversights galore. I can only say that it is what is, but I used this prompt to go back and refine some of the things on one of the original models. Mostly it’s minor things, like adding ridges or holes where two objects originally penetrated through each other. Going back and fixing some of these has added an extra level believability to the model, and  I have a bit motivation now to give the rest of the models the same 2023 treatment. Stay tuned!” / /

Jan Blake

“I’ve always been intrigued by these paintings of such weirdness and complexity. They remind me of so many things and of the artists who have been influenced by them that, to find my own angle, and what intrigued me, took a while to arrive. So I returned to the earth and the recent work that biologists such as Merlin Sheldrake have been studying  in the realms of the entangled lives of mycorrhizal fungi and mycelial networks. It has turned my head upside down to think about these organisms as being the  predecessors of us as beings and how much we depend on them. My model making does not allow too much close inspection but I did enjoy creating creatures that sprang from the network webbing of the roots that surround us.  They remained white having only recently come out of the earth! We are a flawed species and still evolving but at the beginning we may have been something totally mixed-up. We still enjoy dressing up as creatures whether from this planet or another.  The fantasy of becoming Other is still with us.”

Phil Gomm

“I was very drawn to all those shell-pink structures and prawnish people in Bosch’s wonderfully strange and limpid painting, so set about building a miniature version of something so inspired. Sadly, I couldn’t get my hands on a more lewd assortment of little people, so this lot seem content to stand about as silent spectators. I rather think they’re missing out.”

“Having made my little bit of Bosch, I got thinking about raves in woodlands and the likes of the Glastonbury music festival, and I was reminded of a bit of footage I once saw online of an alfresco raver dancing away in the dawning light – even though the music had long since stopped and everyone else was heading home. I thought about Bosch’s garden revellers and how, exhausted from their various exertions, and stoned on strawberry pips and pectin, they might commune nonetheless with the sunrise. I made this little film quickly and simply, with ‘Tuinvolk’ being Dutch for ‘Garden Folk’.”

Graeme Daly

“I am in the process of a big DIY project at the moment, which is turning a shithole of a room in my shared house that is used for storage and discarded items into an artist’s studio where I can work on creative things such as the Kick-About. In the process, I happened to come across the box where I kept all my life drawings from uni; being the sentimental type I could never throw them away and I always wanted to create this project – so the kick about provides that drive yet again. 

I decided to focus on the busyness of Bosch’s painting with emphasis on the figures and go against my usual likeness towards landscapes. Realising I didn’t need to photograph every sheet of life drawing I dusted off my old hard drive that contains photographs of those life drawings and re-photographed a few that were otherwise of an abysmal quality. I then popped them into Photoshop and cut out each figure from the sheet of paper and collaged them together accordingly. A very sentimental feeling seeing all my uni life drawings in one place together and a fulfilling experience.” / @graemedalyart / / / /

Gary Thorne

“There are two portraits in question of the illusive H. Bosch, both proposed as possible self-portraits, and it was this which triggered my thinking across a fortnight of bitterly cold mornings. Catching the first of the sun’s rays as they peaked over the fence, avoided the glass table-top from losing its filter characteristics yet, it demanded a somewhat contortionist approach to taking a selfie.”

Phil Cooper

To me, The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of the most extraordinary paintings every made. I was looking round one of the big state museums here in Berlin last week that had a collection of art from around the same period. I came out feeling like I had gone slightly mad, the paintings and sculptures were so weird, so peculiar to my 21st century eyes that I couldn’t find a way into most of it at all. Having read up about The Garden of Earthly Delights, it seems nobody really knows what the painting is about either. Academics seem to disagree as to whether it is a celebration of erotic joy, of the Garden of Eden before the Fall, or rather an admonition of fleshly pleasures.  Certainly, it is a work of the imagination, a world conjured from the internal life of its maker. So I’ve made a self-portrait image, a photo of me with my eyes closed, looking inward, overlayed with some drawings I made in one of the glasshouses at the Botanical Gardens in Berlin. Many of us yearn for ‘the garden’, whatever that means to each of us, a paradise free from the stresses and strains of the mundane world we live in. Bosch’s painting seems to express that feeling in many of the innocent playful figures that frolic about in the soft light and benign green landscape of its central panel. Sometimes we experience it for real, and sometimes it lives mainly behind our eyelids… / /

Marion Raper

“This is kind of a tall order to condense the woes of civilisation into just two weeks work!  However I’m up for a challenge! Coincidentally,  as I sat looking at the image of The Garden of Earthly Delights the radio played the beautiful song by Mark Knoffler “Are we in trouble now”. How very apt.”

James Randall

“The Garden of Earthly Delights is so dense it was too much for me as a youngster and too strange. Even now I find there is an unpleasant cartoonish characteristic to much of it.

What to say in our AI-driven world? I began this challenge thinking about a visual language beyond zeros and ones perhaps so dense with information that it could be represented by strips of colours so my triptych backgrounds became stretched pixel samples from the original artwork. Then what to say? Something true to homosapiens, and what may come perhaps. I think existence is simple. Then I tried to add a visual representation of this simplicity.”

And with thanks to Brisbane-based artist and regular Kick-Abouter, James Randall, we have our new prompt. And you thought Bosch’s garden took some puzzling out! Have fun in this painter’s room…