| 75 ebel and radical revolutionary... This is how the authors of this exhibition aboutWilliam Blake dub this painter, engraver and poet who acquired a cult status long ago. That's not only because Blake is ranked 38th on the BBC's list of the 100 Greatest Britons of all time, but also because his odes and engravings are also popular onYouTube. Yes, William Blake is a social network star! Hundreds of thousands of people listen to his lyrics, and now the luckiest among them have the opportunity to check out this great retrospective exhibition of his work. More than 300 original works of art, paintings, illustrations, watercolours, including the famous Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794), present Blake as a visual wonder ready for the 21st century. In addition to all of that, HBO is preparing the November premiere of the series His Dark Materials, which is inspired directly by Blake's aesthetics. Blake's time has nally arrived! The creators of the exhibit at Tate Britain wanted to place the poet in his own period, but he himself doesn't want to stay there, as one critic said, because he was creating for an audience yet to come. He is today an inspiration to many visual artists, musicians and poets around the world. Why is Blake important to today's age? Because his personal struggle, in an era of political upheaval, the period of the French and American revolutions, as well as his pre-Romantic vision of the Age of Enlightenment, reveals an authentic artist who made no compromises. The curators of the exhibition note that they wanted to present 'Blake for Everyone': he was a remarkable craftsman, which is why his earlier works are also exhibited, but he was also a paci st, a ghter for sexual freedom who wrote poems opposing racism... The approach of the exhibition's creators is materialist, the curators stress, so they reconstructed the appearance of a gallery from 1809 and Blake's solo exhibition, which proved disastrous – almost no one showed up! Likewise, there is also a desire to demythologise Blake and present his social identity, so visitors can see who his neighbours were, what he ate, how he dressed, and that he was certainly a man of his own time. Why is Blake so contemporary? He uses motifs of bodies cut open, violence, provoking feelings of horror, feverishness and despair, thus hinting at the expressionism of the 20th century. On the other hand, his poetry often assumes a confessional tone and is lled with beauty, splendour and divine ful lment. Yet he is a true rebel and revolutionary regarding the sti moral values of his time. Blake also led the ght against Christianity's misconception of sexuality as a sin. His Jesus is a modern gure, a rebellious persona who launches a new civilisation, which corresponds greatly with the hippie movement and counterculture of the previous century. Three reasons why Blake is so contemporary impose themselves. The rst is his unacceptability. He was the son of lower-class parents who had a workshop in Soho, where he learned engraving and drawing, but had no formal education. Ostracised by the artistic elites of the time, Blake developed the independence of his imagination. He hated the painters Reynolds and Gainsborough, who painted according to the rules of Victorian England, and told them 'To Generalise is to be an idiot'. He adored Michelangelo and Raphael. He engraved poems and lyrics together with illustrations, using a special process he came up with on his own, which he then painted by hand. They would say that he was crazy and vulgar, but he didn't care for social conventions and compromises. He believed in his mission. After all, Blake – although not actively involved in the public life of the epoch – was present in everyday life in the way that extroverts are – he loved to sing, to drink in pubs, to engage in heated discussions, and all sensual pleasures were not foreign to him. He was married to Catherine, who he adored, and she helped him to paint and print his works. She sometimes even nalised them. She shared his vision, and occasionally served him an empty plate as a sign that he needed to earn a shilling or two. The second reason is related to the poetic nature of Blake's creativity juxtaposed to the Age of the Enlightenment and the coming industrial era. Poetry and art di er from science, philosophy and religion in that they are able to connect “fact”with emotion. Blake's poetry is bloody and interprets the divine “beauty of horror” and “horrible harmony”, while the poet created in response to the English Puritanism of the time. With Blake, “all that lives is holy”. Evil is negation, nothingness. “All Act is Virtue”. He created the ideal of creative energy as a ght against spiritual weakness. He was not a moralist, and if he hated something with his soul, then that is the symbol of Urizen, an abstract philosophy - “Spectres that reason”. “More! I want more! Less than all cannot satisfy man,”wrote Blake. He stood against the cult of reason and nature that dispels the idea of imagination. The third reason that Blake remains contemporary is that he condemned organised religion. It would be understated to claim that he was a heretic and that he created his own Christianity. He initially joined the New Church (Swedenborgian) of Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, and later, when he left that church, he stated how he “but only holds a candle in the sun”. He was part of the blossoming of Bloomsbury, where new cults were born, such as astrology, theosophy and freemasonry. Blake claimed to knows of no other Gospel than the liberation of body and mind for the purpose of practising the “Divine Art of Imagination”. He doubted the foundations of basic biblical dogmas, referring to them as delusions: the delusion of instinct that comes only from the body, which is evil, and reason, which is good, (instinct is the only life), and the delusion that God will torment he who follows his instincts (instinct is in nite ecstasy). As such, Blake's mythology is actually the story of man. God is in people, and the human spirit is lled with contradictions. The Tyger, his most famous poem, speaks of that. It could be said that the reception of Blake's creativity is perhaps more important than the chronology of his life. Blake's poetry inspired the Pre-Raphaelites and Rossetti, poets Yeats, Allen Ginsberg, Joni Mitchell and Aldous Huxley, all the way to JimMorrison of The Doors and Jim Jarmusch. The huge 1995 sculpture standing in front of the British Library was inspired by Blake's Newton. Blake is so contemporary that even the Daily Mail published an article on the exhibition mocking a sign at the entrance that warns visitors about disturbing images of violence and su ering. That's something that Blake himself would probably nd interesting!  R The exhibition opened on 11th September and will run until 2nd February 2020 Izložba je otvorena 11. septembra i trajaće do 2. februara 2020. Drevni dani prikazuju starca Urizena kako drži kompas ‘The Ancient of Days' depicts old man Urizen holding a compass