The World Is Ending, Just As It’s Always Been
And we might find some solace in that
Some time ago, I went to an art gallery in London.
And it had a room dedicated to paintings by Oskar Kokoschka, an Austrian expressionist artist who lived and worked over a century ago.
One series of paintings, well, a triptych really, that particularly caught my attention was The Myth of Prometheus. It’s probably one of Kokoschka’s most ambitious compositions as well - it consists of three canvases spanning more than eight metres in total.
A lot is going on in there, as you can imagine.
There are horsemen of the Apocalypse descending from a lightning-struck sky. There is Prometheus - that ancient Greek god known for defying other gods by giving fire to humanity - being punished. There are some random women bathing.
It’s one of the most colourful depictions of humanity on the verge of an apocalypse I’ve ever seen.
But it’s still terrifying as hell.
What Kokoschka’s vision essentially echoed were the fears of his time as the world faced the growing threat of nuclear war from the early 1950s onwards. And while these specific fears might have diminished over the last few decades, anxieties about the state of our world never truly went away, did they?
Kokoschka’s triptych portrays something many of us still struggle with today - the dread of the future we could be faced with.