The horror!

�The world of art is extremely diverse. There are exceptional pieces of beauty, which take our minds to places of wonder. Then, there are those that reach into our nightmares, and depict unimaginable, dark, and unnatural things. There is no doubt that these works paved the way for modern horror, and served as backdrops to the tales of horror in the past.

Like many early works of horror, The Temptation of St Anthony uses religion as a premise for its creation. This piece depicts the figure of St Anthony surrounded by several demons, pulling at him from different directions. The piece is really brought to life by the great attention that is given to texture and the features that comprise the unnatural beasts.
Bacchanalia is a haunting work of art. The ritual it depicts is one of carnality and sexual depravation in honor of Bacchus. The image of the woman nursing the small demonic figures would be enough to send chills down ones spine on its own. Add the haunting figures serving as voyeurs of the spectacle scattered through out the negative space surrounding the participants, and your left with an image that could corrupt the nicest of dreams.
Ever feel that weight on your chest as you sleep? Or sense those eyes watching you through the darkness. Fuseli’s The Nightmare addresses both, and shows what may be lurking as we sleep. This vision shows a stark contrast in color between the bright hews of the sleeping woman, and dark haunting figures disturbing her rest.
Inspiring an entry in Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter books, William Blake’s Red Dragon paintings are site to behold. The beasts depicted are mash between surreal nightmares and perfect human form. Extravagant patterns form the wings that protrude from the form of the central figure, and serve as a detailed background that is just as mesmerizing as the demons themselves.
When I look at Andromeda and the Sea Monster, I’m reminded of the tales of HP Lovecraft. The rhythm and movement of the piece blurs together, making the chaos indescribable with words. The creatures are in motion to devour their victims, who are visibly in terror as they are approached.
In Dante and Virgil we are left to witness two nude figures fighting and biting one another in the bowels of Hell. A demon oversees the ordeal, visibly satisfied with the act. The main figures in the foreground are in exquisite detail, their shape and form, as well their movement is very lifelike. But, what I find the most disturbing is the muddied pile of bodies participating in the same act in the background, suggesting a sea of torment.
The negative space in Rosa’s Witches Sabbath is extremely foreboding. The chaotic ritual that serves as the central focal point of the painting is highlighted by brighter colors surrounded by the darkness that holds the demons escaping it. Another central figure is the winged creature that hovers at the center of the debauchery.
At first glance, this version of Witches Sabbath is lighter in tone. The pastel colors are very different from the dark presentation of Rosa’s Sabbath. It only take a few seconds to realize the women are offering up children as a sacrifice to the goat figure dominantly presented in the center. Bats clutter the sky, illuminated by a crescent moon that sheds light on a stake holding sacrifices to the horned deity.
Another painting with heavy religious undertones, Death of the Miser depicts demons trying to lead the Miser to Hell, even in his dying moments. It is important to note the negative space that fills the upper left hand side of the painting to emphasize the cross being presented by the angel to the right of the Miser. The scale of the window holding the cross is very small when it is compared to temptations that flood the rest of the piece.
Organic texture is the key to Gleeson's surreal painting, The Citadel. Shape and form are skewed to present a vision of nightmares. Human features, both external and internal are intertwined to show a true scene of horror and depravity. Where as some artist choose scenes of beauty to capture the imagination. Gleeson toys with the grotesque to express his vision.
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