.. why


beauty and darkness


The Limits of Gesture   (2015)



"For death is all the fashion now, 

til even death be dead." 

               - W. B. Yeats


With his song of love, J. Alfred Prufrock assures us that in the unfolding modern world, There will be time to murder and create. Writing at the blasted brink of our  deadliest century, Eliot foreshadowed the disquieting crossroads where society's collapsing ethics would collide with its brightening renaissance of mind; where beauty and evil would tangle.  


where the light gets in


The sublime asserts its signature strangely in contexts of spiritual darkness, making for a morally queasy and unstably polarized viewing experience. The three galleries here explore this aesthetic phenomenon.


Season of the Rat   (2014)


I hardly need warn you, as well, that a tour of these precincts makes for a confrontation with fright, inscrutability, and the dread that flows not only from human wickedness and cruelty but also from the random outrages of freakish fate, and, inevitably, from death, which hovers ever close by.


Such theatre is not for children or childlike adults. And especially not for persons who think they like horror films.



Satan's Selfies - J' Accuse!   (2017)



harry pottered 


It's true that Hollywood has made a finely entertaining business out of the sanitized, Harry Pottered, Halloweened, science-fictionalized, monster-mashed celebration of darkness in this world. So much so, that our children could come away supposing that evil today is easy to spot because it’s ugly-looking. 


What's more, they're apt to assume that human evil is tamable, more a concept or misunderstanding than anything else (and probably just the regrettable blowback from somebody's unhappy childhood), a bad idea that good always triumphs over, as immaterial as a fairy tale. God is still in His heaven, which means happy endings.  Sleep well.



Martyrdom of Saint Alleyway   

kingdom of harm


Off the sound stage, evil is not that way, as of course you realize. Its presence in life, often stealthy, is grimly real, and never to be celebrated. Evil is predatory malevolence, an instinct present in many intelligent species and, above all, in human beings.  Evil resides in most of us, waiting for its opening.


We recognize evil as the impulse to destroy, to crush the spirit of life out of other creatures, and to enjoy doing so. To act from evil is to serve one's own vain wishes at all costs, to exalt death over love, to exploit weakness, to sew despair, to make living seem meaningless or hopeless.


Evil sparks fear, it is true, but even more, evil begets suffering, always. To observe unnatural suffering is to stand in evil's force field.


Emergency    (2019) 



And God or no, evil gets its way a lot. During our times, being steeped in selfishness, lies, and sadism, human evil makes its daily appearance beneath a thousand masks, some of them grotesquely brazen, others subtle and indirect. The subtle ones always scare the wits out of me.


Here, many of the images work like cast shadows of implied menace, seeking to convey the uncanniness of evil’s presence as though it is lurking just off-stage, a bit like glimpsing Medusa's horrible countenance obliquely, through a mirror. Because beauty is a balm that aids looking, I use it to allure and appall at the same time, in the way that evil itself often does.



Savior    (2015)

prints of darkness


In defending his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), Oscar Wilde insisted that "No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything."  We test this bravado across three galleries:


. shadowed things  assembles objects and stories that have unnerved me.


. nazi death cult  inspects the former grounds of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, considering whether locating beauty now in such a profoundly dark place does or does not amount to obscenity. (In the end, the jury was hung.)


. satan's selfies  pairs Lucifer's imagined headshots for the sexting-and-hookup scene with some of the ugly propensities - we used to call them sins - that our popular culture tolerates and rewards these days.  


Such pictures are a chill breeze from nowhere, reminders that, outside Hollywood, evil is baffling yet all too material, and that superficial loveliness - evil's most seductive raiment - must never be thought redemptive nor mistaken as any kind of antidote.


Birch Path     (2013)

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