Krampus is a demon particular to eastern and northern Europe, especially Austria and Hungary. He accompanies Saint Nicholas during the Christmas season. But whereas Saint Nicholas dispense largesse and gifts, Krampus is the dark side of the partnership, warning and punishing bad children.

The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word Krampen, meaning claw. Traditionally young men dress up as the Krampus during the weeks of Advent, particularly on the evening of 5 December, St Nicholas’ Eve, known in Germany as ‘Krampusnacht’. Demons roam the streets with rusty chains and bells, making a clamour and threatening with their teeth and talons. Traditional images of Krampus show him with a basket on his back, carrying away bad children to the portals of Hell! In the words of my friend Paul Bommer, who himself has done a mighty fine picture of Krampus, ‘Don’t worry about the child in the basket—he has been very naughty and had had many stern warnings from his grandparents, so he had it coming!’

With the exception of the background and the boy’s t-shirt, made of coloured paper from an art supplier, the collage has been constructed entirely of shapes snipped from the pages of a couple of magazines. I like the bright, flat, graphic quality that comes from the printed papers, particularly their tonal aspects. Working this way facilitates speed, and once an image is underway there is the sense too of improvisation, with every magazine-page flipped offering new possibilities for how the collage may develop. I need to explore these techniques more.

We have not done cards this year, and so this last post of  the holiday is by way of a Christmas Greeting to you all from me and Peter. All at the Artlog is in the hands of Lucy, Curator of Alphabet Soup and trusted blog-sitter, while I have what she tells me is a much-deserved break. And so now l take my leave of you swiftly, in the spirit of one of the great traditions of panto… Pooooooof… like a Demon King down a star-trap!

13 thoughts on “Krampus-comes-a-calling!

  1. Oh, I like yours and Paul’s as well… “Let the wild Rumpus start!”

    Merry Christmas-to-come–I’m afraid that I’ve done little so far, since I’m barely home. But we did go out and cut down a tree this very night (ouch! not a balsam but a blue spruce this year), and it is drinking water from a big Victorian pot…

  2. You might have guessed I am a big fan of Krampus, your jolly little monster is a delight . Happy Krampusing to you and yours.

  3. Your Krampus is too delightful to be demonic – I’d gladly play with him instead of running away. A very happy and playful Christmas and New Year to you and Peter, dear Clive, and hope to see you in 2013.

  4. Have a wonderful Christmas break Clive, thanks for your friendship and encouragement this year, it’s so appreciated. What a superb collage, he’s a fantastic creation, you work wonders, lots of love to you and Peter x

    • You’re wrong, Paul, I’m no master but a beginner at collage, though an enthusiastic one. I can’t see me practising collage to the exclusion of painting, but I am finding it a wonderful playground for ideas. I’m also finding myself, for the first time ever, haunting the magazine racks of newsagents, assessing not the merits of journalism, but looking for illustration-rich periodicals using vibrant colour printed on matt paper!!!

      Merry Christmas to you and Nick. I hope you’ll have a wonderful one in your new home. Peter and I (and Jack) send our love.

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