Garden of Forbidden Fruits

Chris Koch (1963-)


Mixed Media Lightbox, 2018


156cm x 106cm x 11cm

More Artwork by Chris Koch

The “Garden of Forbidden Fruits” is modern re-interpretation of the iconic “Garden of Earthly Delights” painted by Hieronymus Bosch in roughly 1515 – one of the artist’s later works.

While Bosch’s work was a provocative (for the time) commentary on morality and the dire consequences of moral decay, I’ve decided to use the visual impact of the original work to provoke discussion on morality in a modern society. Making use of found images, the composition consists entirely of male figures (as opposed to female figures used in the original), depicted in various quasi-erotic compositions. Bringing it closer to home I’ve replaced many of Bosch’s fantastical creatures with African icons and symbols – Sangomas and classical Dutch Reformed Church spires live side-by-side – thereby highlighting the contradictions and different value system that are so much part of the South African gay experience.

Any discussion or depiction of the gay experience in South Africa would not be complete without alluding to the omni-present prejudice and condemnation that gay people still face – sometimes on a daily basis. It was however a conscious choice to not give these bigoted views more airtime than absolutely necessary, so that the viewer is still left with an overall impression of the positive side of the gay experience.

The work is meant to be an immersive experience: the more time the viewer spends with the work, the more visual puns will be revealed. Ultimately the take-out should be a positive one, and the message one of affirmation of being gay in South Africa.