Egg tempera on panel. “Berioshka Series” 1991l
“Garden of Surgical Delights”
|2 × 2 × 72 in
Garden of Surgical Delights
Every artist I met while in Russia had a nice collection of art books. Most had a picture book of the art of the fourteenth century painter, Hieronymus Bosch. He painted triptychs—three paintings side by side, that showed naughty behavior in the first one and punishment in Hell in the last.
“Bosch understands the Russians,” they’d tell me. “We are a passionate people who history has cursed to suffer in the end.”
I decided to create a painting that showed Russian Heaven and Russian Hell in one image. One day in a shabby Moscow flat that we were crashing in, I found a book that illustrated Russian medical and surgical apparati. The machines were frightening and gave me resolve not to get sick while I was in Russia. It also gave me a theme for Russian Heaven and Hell rolled into one.