What looks like a photo of a girl showing off her tattoo inspired by Hieronymus Bosch is not a photo at all. It’s actually an incredible oil painting by the Polish artist Agnieszka Nienartowicz. She just graduated from the Fine Arts Academy of Gdask two years ago, but she is very good at what she does. This painting feels very modern because it combines the work of Hieronymus Bosch, a forerunner of the Northern Renaissance, with tattoo art.
The idea for the piece, which has the same name as Bosch’s famous painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, came from Nienartowicz’s own private thoughts. She was very interested in how people feel and fight inside, so the 15th-century painting was the perfect way for her to get her point across. “Humans are full of contrasts and contradictions; they want to do good but end up doing bad,” the artist tells My Modern Met. “I was thinking about the way people are, how sin and the desire to do bad things are written into us, like they are written inside us. Then I made the connection to Bosch’s triptych, which is about people. I really like this painting because it is both strange and beautiful at the same time.”
The young artist painted Bosch’s figures in oil very well. They show the fall of man and contrast with the delicate beauty of the young woman they show. Nienartowicz’s work is an example of how figurative painting is making a comeback in modern art. Even though it’s getting closer to hyperrealism, the canvas still has a painterly touch. By using both old and new techniques, she tries to reach the same level of perfection as the Old Masters and carry on their tradition of skill into the 21st century.
How does Nienartowicz feel when she combines modern and historical things in her paintings? “I treat each element the same, but the historical elements bring a story and an emotional load with them. By putting them in my paintings, I also give them a new context, meaning, and life. Maybe it is also a way to honour the Old Masters?”
In The Garden of Earthly Delights by Agnieszka Nienartowicz, a young girl has a tattoo on her back that is based on Hieronymus Bosch’s famous 15th-century painting.
“In particular, I like the works of the Old Masters from bygone eras because of the excellent ideas and craftsmanship they represented. It’s often the case that their brilliance completely overwhelms me.“