A random selection from the book Revelations, with more than 130 images 2007-2017.

Invitation à Cythère.

“This scene really came to me like a vision. It probably has something to do with my many bus journeys in the mining region of Limburg every time I went to the drawing academy in Maasmechelen, because at one point I saw in front of my mind’s eye a train compartment with exhausted miners in blue-grey overalls, a nude cirkus girl in their midst. The atmosphere was something of Van Gogh’s potato eaters, unearthly, uncomfortable. As I began to work out the idea, it got richer: I met Freddy Segers, the tattooed protagonist, and he seemed like a dream cirkus director to me. Sophie became a trapeze girl in a négligé and in one two three the scene completely changed atmosphere – but not of intent. After months of searching the dream vintage first-class train compartment and other preparations, the newspaper of the day was the defining coincidence that defined the story. The day we took this photo an annex to De Tijd was dedicated to DSK, under the title: “Power and Sex”. That title and the accompanying illustration with the snake make this picture what it is in my oeuvre: a classic !”

Trouble in Paradise.

On the sixth day, God created the woman, complete with slippers at her feet, “disegno di Bartolomeo”. Because there were no brasseries and restaurants in those days, and because the love of the woman goes through the stomach, she was only too happy with the JonaGold apple that was given to her by Paris – or was it by Shakespeare’s Nick Bottom transformed into a donkey? No, no, the donkey is undoubtedly the prince who kissed her awake, isn’t it? Anyway, Adam and Eve, Snow White, the Paris Judgment and a Midsummer Night’s Dream are the rich breeding ground of this profound reflection on the apple, symbol of knowledge and source of great human misfortune. The morals? Knowledge doesn’t make you happy. And why do bird boxes hang in the trees? Because God had created the birds a day earlier, tiens.

Queen of Hearts.

While four men play cards as if possessed, with or without foul play, no one has an eye for the real Queen of Hearts that languishes alone with a glass of red wine. Or is she the prize for the winner of the game, as some spectators conclude?

The goddess of discord Eris was not invited to the marriage of Thetis and Peleus, and avenged herself by leaving a golden apple with the inscription “for the most beautiful”. Three goddesses claimed the fruit: Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. Zeus thought this was too thorny an issue to judge for himself, and passed the hot apple to Paris of Troy, the sheep-herding prince. He eventually chose Aphrodite, because she promised him the most beautiful woman of flesh and blood: Helena. Her subsequent kidnapping caused the Trojan War and eventually the demise of the city. Just as in Manet’s “Déjeuner sur l’Herbe”, which is based on “The Paris Judgment”, an engraving by Raphael, one of the characters looks the viewer in the eye, and thus involves him in the scene…

Agnus Dei (The Last Supper)

Who will save the world? For the countless visitors of Hôtel Le Berger in Brussels, a former rendez-vous hotel built in art deco style in 1933, the answer will not have been far to be found: the woman. The woman in all her guises: mistress, wife, mother, whore, her selfless love here symbolized by … Milk. This gathering of generous women in Le Berger could of course not simply be entitled “The Last Supper”; a shepherd belongs to a lamb, hence the final title: Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. All references to Gabrielle d’Estrées, the mistress of the French King Henry IV, are of course entirely art-historical. Where is God in all this, will you ask? Well, if God’s everywhere, he’s in the rendez-vous house, too, isn’t he? Thanks to the enthusiastic models of Neo Retro Agency, without whom this scene would not have been possible !

Pornocrates 2.0

Tatjana as a modern Joan of Arc tries to convince the pigs of de Bereklauw of the resurrection of the soul, but they are more interested in the food.

Mundo Magico.

“Mundo Magico” is a scene inspired by the character of Lola Montès (1821-1861), a courtesan of Irish origins that caused furore with a show as a “spanish dancer”. She left home at 16 with a lieutenant, had a love affair with Franz List in Paris, was the mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who promoted her to Countess of Landsfeld. (When they were introduced in response to his question whether her bosom was real she would have simply put the evidence on the table). In 1848 she had to flee because of the German revolutions via Switzerland, France and London, and finally she arrived in the United States, where she continued her love adventures and her work as an entertainer. In the film “Lola Montès”, the last film by Max Ophuls (and a masterpiece of cinematography), her life is told in some brilliantly depicted chapters. The final chapter shows how she entertains the audience with her life story as a circus act.

Tire la Chevillette

The Roman Charity is a classic legend about an innocent prisoner who stays alive thanks to the daily visits of his pregnant daughter. A very popular theme for a lot of artists of course, notably during the baroque period, with Rubens and others.
In this version, we recognize Little Red Riding Hood, this time not taking care of her sick grandma, but of the hungry wolf, or is it granddad? As the hunter notices this little scene through the window she yells welcoming: just pull the cord and the door will open!

Strangers in the Night

For the art lovers: just compare with “Rolla” by Gervex (1878), a scandalous painting after the poem by de Musset, about a ruined man that commits suicide after a last visit to a courtisan.
“Il prit un flacon noir qu’il vida sans rien dire;
Puis, se penchant sur elle, il baisa son collier.
Quand elle souleva sa tête appesantie,
Ce n’était déjà plus qu’un être inanimé.”
(Alfred de Musset)

But who oh who is the man in the mirror?

La Petite Mort

Some twenty years after the Immaculate Conception archangel Djibriel and the Virgin Mary present their daughter Jesus to the god of the Underworld Pluto and his wife Proserpina. They run the brothel “La petite Mort”, a hot spot where you can consume Mort Subite, Duvel and other underworldly beers – just pay attention that the dog Cerberus doesn’t bite you! An exclusive party of gods from all times and places is amusing itself splendidly, as you could expect in a truly globalised heaven.

In Bart Ramakers’ photographs, mythology and fairy tales are staged with references to the grand artistic tradition of history painting. Ramakers appeals to his viewers’ collective imaginary museum of paintings from the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Classicism. His work is not merely post-modern recuperation with the aim of deconstructing. In line with the movie Orphée by the surrealist film director Jean Cocteau, he actualises classical tradition to question the human condition.

(Prof. Dr. Maximiliaan Martens, Art history department University Ghent)