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The Musings of Malcolm Bucknall

The painter Malcolm Bucknall has sent us his thoughts on the pandemic. Reflecting back through the annals of art history, the artist is immersing himself in works by artists such as Hieronymous Bosch and Lucas Cranach the Elder. These artists created work during the Plagues that ravaged Europe centuries before. In particular, Bosch's seminal "The Garden of Earthly Delights" reminds humanity that life is cyclical, and that we will return from this dark abyss and again bask in the golden light of paradise that is the Garden of Earthly Delights. Malcolm's words further this sentiment that life and art will prevail perhaps slowly but gloriously and something magnificent will emerge.

Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delight, 1490-1500, via Museo El Prado

What Goes Around Comes Around

Presently deriving inspiration and imagery from Hieronymus Bosch and Lucas Cranach—am I a time-lapsed apprentice? 

Then and Now

1347 The Plague (population of England reduced from six million to two million) bringing disruption of the old order and construction of a new.

1450-1516 Hieronymus Bosch

1453 Fall of Byzantium and decimation of a vast body of classical knowledge with the loss of the Library of Constantine.

1455 Gutenberg Bible and invention of movable type, thereby furthering spread of knowledge and education.

1472-1553 Lucas Cranach

1492 Columbus discovers the New World

1517 Martin Luther posts Papal Bull (Ninety-Five Theses); start of the Reformation

1519-1522 Magellan circumnavigates the globe

A Busy half-century--post-pandemic and transforming!

There’s a new plague in town from which I am largely sequestered. Here’s me sitting in my studio fascinated with the work of these guys. I have easy availability to good color reproductions, in print and on the internet that can be matched and mashed, reduced and enlarged, added and subtracted, generally manipulated any which way.

Art may be timeless, but sensibilities change. My exemplars’ works were heavily narrative and very dense, due perhaps to the relative scarcity of books and definitely to the lack of cameras, movies and TVs. “There’s a new picture in town” would be the advertisement for a new Lucas Cranach work, meaty enough to take your girlfriend to with maybe a banquet afterwards. That sensibility—very un-Modern—speaks to me, engages a contemporary mindset.

So that’s what’s grabbing me. Maybe a time-lapsed apprentice, but I’m enjoying this approach to painting here and now.

Long Live Art!

Malcolm Bucknall, Fete Champetre, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

Malcolm Bucknall, Boy on a Swing: Above the Turmoil, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

Malcolm Bucknall, Eve, oil on canvas, 15 x 14 inches

Malcolm Bucknall, Facing Down Fear, oil on canvas, 14 x 15 inches

Malcolm Bucknall, The Muse and Dreams of Hieronymus Bosch, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches

Malcolm Bucknall, Venus, oil on canvas, 16 x 12 inches

*these works will be exhibited in Malcolm Bucknall's 2021 show at Wally Workman Gallery

For further reading:
Jerry Saltz’s article Revisiting a 16th-Century Masterpiece of Mass Death From Self-Isolation in 2020.

posted on 4/6/2020