Ana Barriga: Say Cheese | Carl Kostyál

With its gruesome monsters, day-glo colours and cavorting nudes, Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights looks like a riot of fun to us these days. But in fact, Bosch was a deeply religious man, and most art historians make out a stern moral warning in this 500-year-old triptych - not a party.

Ana Barriga’s directly influenced by Bosch. But she prefers to party than moralise. Her version of his Garden is called Say Cheese. It’s the titular work at this show at Carl Kostyál. This huge, eight metre wide triptych is so new and fresh that I could still smell the spray paint when I visited it.

Ana Barriga, ‘Say Cheese’ (2023) Ana Barriga, ‘Say Cheese’ (2023)

Barriga takes her inspiration from Bosch’s triptych format, his grand scale and his chaotic parade of monstrous creatures. But her Garden is shorn of all Biblical references: instead she paints figurines - the kind of china cats you see in restaurants, a Pinocchio doll, a geisha-style head with a hairpiece made out of sushi rolls, a peanut-like figure with braces spelling out the artist’s name.

Barriga’s show notes are hysterical in a good way. She explains this work as “the ‘chaotic’ coeistence of the good and the best” - no moralism in sight.

“I view the world through my painter’s glasses,” she adds. “I care not for a world devoid of these glasses… I prefer life compressed, experienced, and endured - the life within the Garden of Earthly Delights - over lives that fade away and reemerge pristine and unblemished.”

Lucky us that we can wear these glasses, see briefly all the hysteria and chaos, then take them off, walk back downstairs from the first floor gallery that holds them - and walk outside into the cool grey summer air. Too much chaos and you’ll eventually feel like hell.

Ana Barriga: Say Cheese is at Carl Kostyál (London).