A 20th Century Garden of Earthly

written by Bora Ćosić


The Prado's on fire! The first to break the news in these parts was Marko Risti}, a poet from Belgrade, theoretician of surrealism and witness of the times. One of Hitler's pilots dropped a bomb on this depository of art, and the smell of burning spread all over Europe. Thus, in the days of my childhood, yet another practice for the erasure of the human spirit was established, for the zillionth time in the history of humankind, and the great paintings of our civilization were used as firewood once again. Later, when I read about this incident, scenes from an old Flemish painter popped up – images of human suffering, massacre and evil deeds, images of homes burning – and I thought how likely it was that they would burn once more for the last time, set afire by someone else's hand. Of course, I refer to Hieronymus Bosch of the Van Aeken family of unknown date of birth, estimated to be around the mid 15th century. He was one of those artists of immense frenzy in their hand and in the brush it held, a prophet who exposed the deformed face of much vaunted humankind, its sick, perilous, and unpredictable actions.