Conjuring Hell

Conjuring Hell

Dec 27, 2023

TAIPEI, TAIWAN, 27 December, 2023- As I contemplate Dirk Bouts’ ‘The Fall of the Damned,’ I am struck by the notion that the seemingly bizarre imagery within the painting serves as a faithful representation of the moral and religious landscape of Bouts’ era. The intensely moralistic nature of the work, I believe, positions it as a form of religious propaganda—a visual narrative designed to impart moral lessons and instill a sense of virtue in its viewers. Bouts, like many artists of the Northern Renaissance, utilized his craft not only for aesthetic expression but also as a tool for moral instruction.


Remarkably, the depiction of Hell in Bouts’ painting takes on a contemporary resonance when viewed through the lens of today’s global challenges. The torment, chaos, and anguish illustrated in the artwork find echoes in the struggles faced by individuals around the world in the present day. 


In recognizing the enduring universality of themes related to human suffering and moral consequences, we are prompted to view ‘The Fall of the Damned’ not merely as a historical artifact but as a mirror reflecting the perennial ethical questions that transcend time and culture. Through this lens, the painting becomes a poignant reminder that, despite the temporal and cultural gaps, the human experience remains intricately connected by shared struggles and the perpetual quest for understanding and meaning.


Dirk Bouts

‘The Fall of the Damned,’ 


Oil on Panel

115 cm × 69,5 cm (45 in × 274 in)