From the Renaissance to Surrealism, this theme has been amply dealt with, each painter giving his own vision of the holy man's hallucinations, as he is tormented by the Demon. There are two ways of depicting this scene through terror or through desire. As for terror, the paintings offer a complete catalogue of bristled monsters, foaming jaws and dreadful claws Saint Antoine has a taste of Hell and its cruel torments. As for the other way, it is that of a desire and a more subtle temptation than the teratological fantasy mechanically applied, as Roger Caillois explains in his brilliant essay Au cœur du fantastique.
As he uses both influences, the two versions J. Hazera offers us are situated in-between these visions.
The first version divides the painting into two parts: the sky and the land – a brutal cut between a far too blue sky where far too red clouds are floating, spitting down birds towards the median axis of the canvas, and the land, puckering and forming folds to shelter weird animals shaped out of the clay's spirals. Saint Antoine's character is sitting in the bottom right corner. Placed in a circle, his character mixes in a reptilian intertwining- lust, death and nothingness offered in a cup in which the red of the liquid stands out from the white of the hair and of the drape. Nothing is made to create terror. Still, the atmosphere is electric, and the landscape is that of the beginning of the world, where, in the circle of Time, the birth and the ending are continuously played out. Temptation changes into destiny.
The second version explores another possibility a vertical design, with a glowing hole on its right, stands for the background. The air no longer circulates. The space is saturated with the foliage, the trunk, the animals and the main character who is taken up again, as in the previous one, but without being enclosed in the constrictor circle. What is especially pleasing is the fact that the monsters themselves seem to be the ones to be terrified: does one have to understand that the real threat does not come from where it is supposed to ? Does one have to think that, instead, it is hidden under the religious principle itself ? Maceration, mystical frenzy, refusal of pleasure, negation of the feminine, fanaticism this chapter is not anywhere near to be shut, and the wincing monsters are no more than agreeable good jokes in comparison to the awesome soldiers of faith.