The fool is an ambiguous and ambivalent character in art, literature, and myth. Hieronymous Bosch’s painting of the ‘Ship of Fools’ made at the end of the 15th century is a parallel visual satire that reflects his perception of the human condition while recalling the medieval tradition of getting rid of the unwanted, mad and crazy by sending them away from the city in a boat. The ship, like the fool, is a powerful and ambiguous cultural image and visual metaphor. It can represent the hierarchy, organisation, guiding principles and direction of society itself as it navigates calm or troubled waters in a quest for knowledge, travel, trade, conquest, setting out to explore new worlds and freedoms or to escape from persecution and oppression.
Leon de Bliquy’s series of paintings of fools, the last works he made before losing his sight, reflect insight into the human condition arising from his own particular and personal inner vision and experience. Playful, colourful dynamic and delightful they are accompanied by a book from the original exhibition in Cape Town with short poetic texts in English and Afrikaans which invite us to explore them as a mirror held up to the world. Leon’s first exhibition at St. John’s Greene Gallery was entitled ‘Odyssey’, it is a pleasure and privilege to continue an ongoing artistic dialogue with him in this exhibition ‘Ship of Fools’.
Opening Friday 6 October from 16:00-18:00 in The Greene Gallery