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Aliens, drugs, or just too much free time

Arpi Karapetyan '24

Feb 3, 2023

Minimalism, abstract expressionism, and op-art reached their heyday in the 20th century, and their popularity has not waned. Combine that fact with the trend of “posing next to art we think we could easily create ourselves,” and the sum is hubris, represented by the brash idea that “my neighbour’s kid makes better drawings, and he’s in second grade.” Think about the stark example of a large green square on a yellow background, and you’ll have an idea of such arrogance.

When folks encounter paintings that are complex (for example, “The Garden of Earthly Delights”), they might assume the artist is a superhuman being. After all, if they can’t produce it, then why should any person be able to? With the fast pace of life, such folks would deem it impossible for anyone to have the freedom to paint something so elaborate, so intricate. To them, it seems silly for a single person to dedicate 20 years to a painting so detailed that it would take another 20 years to study every square inch. Right?


From 1490 to 1510, Dutch artist, Hieronymus Bosch dedicated his life to the painting he titled “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” a triptych work spanning three canvases depicting, from left to right, the Garden of Eden, Earth, and Hell. The original is currently housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain. The piece is filled with symbolism, and every brushstroke on the canvas has meaning. Bosch didn’t just get bored and start filling empty space with owls, flying fish, and pigs dressed as nuns kissing for the fun of it. He planned the painting with methodical and mathematical precision. At the same time, though, the work depicts ideas that were nearly unheard of at the time, leading some to believe that Bosch was taking hallucinogens.

Part of me wants to agree with the theory, but another part of me hates it. Why have people decided that individuals can no longer be creative unless they are under the influence of a randomly-chosen drug?

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