Created as an homage to the great northern renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch in 2016, marking the 500 year anniversary of his death, the creation collective Les 7 Doigts plunge us into the world of his paintings in BOSCH DREAMS. Incredible animation and video projection by French-Argentine video artist Ange Poitier helps to create the three dimensional canvas unto which our seven acrobats play and release their creativity. The story and the world that this show creates is incredibly whimsical and definitely not as dark as the source material would lead you to believe. This is a show that is absolutely not to be missed during the 10th edition of Montréal Complètement Cirque!
“What is good? What is bad? What is paradise? How do we decide how to live our life? These are existential questions that many artists have struggled with.” explains a contemporary arts professor lecturing on Bosch’s work. Behind him we see the largest most high definition projection of The Garden of Earthly Delights projected onto a scrim that hides the rest of the stage from us. Even if you aren’t familiar with Bosch and his particular brand of surrealism, the narrative approach of this show will help fill in any blanks that you might have forgotten from that one art history elective that you took in university.
Meanwhile our arts professor’s daughter (interpreted by Elisa Breuer-Penello, who is also an incredible aerial dancer) celebrates her 12th birthday, and begins to discover Bosch’s works just as her father did as a boy before her. Imaginative animal-like creatures of Bosch’s creation pull her quite literally into the world of the paintings. The peculiar people that populate this world immediately invite her to join in their festivities and merry-making. Things seem to be going well, but there’s no telling what the secret motives of these creatures are as they lead her further and further into this dreamlike landscape. We’re reminded of what dangers await us if we indulge too much as the stage goes dark and a vicious toad-like creature crawls across the space, dragging someone in their mouth, crunching on their bones.
Bosch isn’t the only artist that this show highlights either. Salvador Dali as well as Jim Morrison, two other extraordinary artists who were heavily influenced by the work of Bosch, make featured appearances as well. We join Dali, walking through the galleries of El Prado in Madrid, Spain, where a large collection of Bosch’s works still remain today. A security guard who is curiously reminiscent of a rat invites Dali into Bosch’s paintings as well. Dali takes in the delights of the garden, including Marie-Ève Dicaire who performs a beautiful act from inside a luminescent bubble, interpreting the style in which Bosch painted the human bodies throughout his works.
Jim, on the other hand, gives us a glimpse of his glamorous world of rock and roll. Set to some of The Doors’ best jams, Timothé Vincent interprets Morrison and with gives us a sexy aerial hoop performance along side Léah Wolff as one of his lovers. We’re left asking ourselves “should I stay or should I go?” but eventually we know the adventure must come to an end.
So what was Bosch really trying to say through his work? Some say that through his gruesome and absurd creations he attempted to hold a mirror up to his public, so they could see themselves better, although we continue to ask ourselves what he really meant even today. I think that question was perfectly explored and more by Les 7 Doigts. As surrealist as Hieronymus Bosch was, circus presents us with the capacity to bend reality and continue to believe that anything is possible.
Les 7 Doigts present
Performances: July 4 to 14, 2019
Venue: Salle Pierre-Mercure
(300, boulevard de Maisonneuve Est, Montréal, H2X 3X6)
Ages: 8+ | Performances in French only
Box Office: 514-374-3522 | www.montrealcompletementcirque.com