Brian Sewell’s review: Heaven

by philapilus

what a dreadful garish display

Perhaps the quality one would expect most from the audaciously named ‘Heaven’ is an unalloyed and transcendent beauty; a perfection that might deserve such a superlative. Oh dear.

I have often been given cause to marvel at the magnificence that can be wrought in precious materials by the finest of craftsmen, but the so-called ‘Pearly Gates’ struck me as a drab affair, with none of the power of Rodin’s portals, nor even the grace of Bernini’s columns.

This aesthetic appetiser left me wishing only for the return of my cataracts.

But though unexceptional and overambitious, the gates turned out to be less visually distressing than that which lay beyond them.

The main aspect appears to be a series of rococo clouds tinged with pink and gold and daubed across an azure sky, a saccharine excess that even Walt Disney would consider ‘going too far’.

Laid out with no thought for harmonious composition, these fluffy little blobs are peopled with a very lacklustre bunch of denizens whose harp-playing leaves much to be desired, as does their singing, praising, glorifying, and pretty much everything else.

Worse than the Saved however are the celestial beings themselves. Having beheld the angelic hordes of Giotto, I was expecting something special, but frankly not even Michelangelo could have made the anatomy of these mutant freaks attractive.

One might wonder why an all-powerful deity would bestow upon the seraphim and cherubim wings like those of bats rather than swans, but by this point little caused me wonder in this temple of the grotesque.

Seated on a garish throne offering a serviceable definition of the word kitsch, was a deity so hackneyed and unoriginal in form as to remind me of the ghastly and derivative pre-Raphaelites.

Noticing my snear, He spake thusly “You know Brian, it could be worse. We could have sent you to hell.”

To which I quipped “My Lord, I thought you already had.”

Quite a bon mot!

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