Last week I went to an amazing painting exhibition entitled, “Horror and Delight” at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. My visit had a few surprises in store: At the academy I was pleasantly reminded of the art school I went to back in Iran, though this is a massive 19th century building with elaborate frescoes on its high ceilings and vast stairways and corridors but ours, a crumbling chewing gum factory turned into an art college. Yet I was delighted to find out the atmosphere quiet the same in both, the smell of paint, the sound of musicians rehearsing and packs of students drawing here and there.
Then there was the outstanding exhibition, a collection of paintings gathered from all over the world depicting human emotions and expressions from artists such as Rubens, Gentileschi, Bosch and many others. The collection was gathered around the subject of extreme human emotions with moving scenes of figures in pain, rage and fear some more violent and graphic than a typical Hollywood horror movie. There was one showing a beautiful lady forcing her blade diligently through the flesh of a struggling man. This is, “Judith Slaying Holofernes” by Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few women painters in the 17th century in Italy. The amount of violence in this picture is unbelievable. I wondered if there is really a need for violence in human beings. Why would a 17th century painter create such a horrid scene and why would some people still watch (and share) the horrifying videos of recent violent acts of terrorists?
For “Judith Slaying Holofernes” click here.