Hieronymus: a Modest Proposal

There is not much left of the visionary master in the modern city. One grey dismal statue marks a weight in the central square. A forlorn figure holding the wrong kind of palette stares over the hurrying populace.The master works of the most imaginative narrative painter who ever lived now adorn galleries across the world. the most significant gleaming in the interior of the Prado. 

Not a single work exists in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Stolen centuries before by the Spanish invaders who cynically exchanged them for the plague. But there is an essence, a frail but tangible ghost still haunting the crumbling, remaining corners of the old city. Something of the artist's mysterious atmosphere still whispers and scurries along the edges of the ancient twisting water ways that weaves shadow and the melancholy beauty of the place at the periphery of sight. An imp of enigma and occultation that is indifferent to our speed and direction as it busies itself with hushed intensity at the heart of its city.
I know this because I have been privileged enough to be invited four times to find it

Anet van de Elzen has been bringing performance artist to Den Bosch for the last fifteen years. These gem-like festivals have a growing international reputation for experiment and innovation. Artists from many different countries have made new and challenging images inside the resonance of Bosch's magnetic influence. The potent flickering moments of performance exist at the hub of artistic invention, but are often seen as dangerous and unstable hybrids , needing to be held and curated at the margins of current contemporary practice. This seeming contradiction is very commonplace with many art forms that asks questions or holds up a disturbingly bright mirror to our collective subconscious. Indeed many performance artists themselves court, embrace and enjoy this definition; seeing merit and freedom in this tribe of itinerant outsiders.
There is a Bosch drawing of a hoard of lame and malformed beggars . many of which seem proud of their collected guild. They are twisting and shuffling towards an evolution that will colour them into a bestiary of fantastic creatures, that the world will never forget. This drawing could be a flag , a pennon for any gathered flock of performers. This where this odd notion seeded itself and slowly grew into a proposal: that perhaps we of this performance art fraternity might have the audacity to adopt Bosch as our patron saint. To seek his image as our example and figure- head. To evoke a society of practitioners that celebrate and extend the poetry of the masters legacy. To kidnap him away from the inattention of painters and restore him in a company that he would relish.

B.Catling. Oxford. 2002



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