This July we are presenting a remarkable reworking of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by the Spanish painter Lluis Barba. The original artwork was painted in 1504 and, composed of three panels showing the Creation, the Earth and a particularly macabre Hell, is one of the most surrealistic and disturbing paintings of the whole Dutch Renaissance. In 2007, Lluis Barba revealed his modern version of the painting at Art Basel Miami Beach, the world’s premiere international art show for Modern and contemporary works. What Barba did, is collocating new characters next to the original Bosch’s deformed ones. Artists, friends, colleagues and celebrities join the narration and are attentively placed either in the Paradise, Earth or Hell sections. For instance, Kate Moss, who, as the artist says: “is as important to Art History as Andy Warhol”, can be seen on the left side of the panel, enjoying the delights of Creation, while Brad Pitt, Madonna, Elton John and Pavarotti belongs to the central panel, representing the earthly sin. All of them have their place, but the artist left the worst position to some of those considered the key players in the art world, like Jay Joplin (the White Cube Gallery dealer who sold Damien Hirst’s skull). Despite the humming created around his version of Bosch’s painting, it is not the first time that Barba re-interpreted iconic artworks or portraits. His artistic language, which critiques the art world and, more in general, the modern society, is also visible in his series of self-portraits, picturing the most important artists in the development of art history.
Born in Spain, Lluis Barba currently lives and works in Barcelona. He has exhibited his work in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Canada. His work is hosted in major public collections, such as the Artothèque d’Art Anekdota in Paris, Museo International Cairo, Museo Marugame Hirai Japan and more.
A version of this article appeared on Times Online, December 12, 2007.