macabre in ill its manifestations and by the underworld of strange vice, it is perhaps at first sight surprising that he should also feel drawn towards religious themes. But if one studies Bursa's strange work, which. in some respects, seems to be the visual equivalent of the writings of Graham Greene, the connection hctween the most sordid, squalid and corrupt subjects and the religious ones-through the link of the undeniable existence of evil and the redeeming power of gracebecomes plain.
Poor health has driven Burra to live in almost complete seclusion where he can guard his strength for his work and never allow it to he wasted On physical or mental effort which hrings no return.
FIE has an amazing know" ledge of the seedier ways of life, especially those of the Mediterranean ports and of Latin America, and takes a special pleasure in transforming their peculiar corruption from disordered ugliness into the ordered clarity which is beauty, and portraying their garish colours and their flamboyancy and their vulgarity with such
style. such exotic fantasy. that they acquire a kind of stuffed magnificence.
Bursa's flat method of laying on paint, the choice of the obvious brash colour. the excess of decorative detail in his pictures of low-life exactly describe the emptiness, the resounding hollowness of that kind of society,
The macabre subjects. such as The Torturers. The Wakes and The Riot. are nearly all concerned with the outrages of war. The brassy colours have been exchanged for slimy greens, bloody reds. and the latent spirit of evil, only implicit in the underworld pictures, here rears its head.
THE most terrible impact of the world's evil is realised fully in The Agony in the Garden. Christ. withdrawn to the edge of the picture. is strained nearly to the point of collapse by the evil which brims over in the sinister chalice now professed to Him and which He knows He must drink to the last dregs.
Bursa's vision is a powerful one and a terrible one, but if it tears at the heart and shakes us from our lethargy, it has done what it sets out to do.