Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Garden of Death

This West Oakland wall garden reminded me of Hugo Simberg's fresco The Garden of Death, which is in the Tampere Cathedral in Finland. Simberg was a symbolist who was fascinated with otherworldly themes. His most famous painting is The Wounded Angel, in which two sullen-looking, working class boys carry a wounded angel on a stretcher.

Simberg made the threshold between this and other worlds lower. Life after death is not saints on clouds, it's skeletons tenderly caring for odd-looking herbs. Humans can help out angels, not just the other way around. Life is fragile, but so is death. All things are complicated and simple.

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