Guy Denning’s Oil Painting Series on the Commedia

Guy Denning is an artist based out of Finistere, France since 2007. Beginning in 2011, he created a three part series of oil paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. The image above is a painting called “ch’io ‘l vidi uomo di sangue e di crucci” from his first series, ‘Inferno‘ (2011).

“In 2011 he presented ‘Inferno’, the first part of his three-part series of oil paintings on Dante’s Commedia in Bologna; this was his first exhibition in Italy and the complete exhibition sold out.
In 2011, he presented the second part of the series in New York City for the exhibition ‘Purgatorio’. Originally drawing inspiration from Dante’s writings, his intention was not to recreate the poem in a visual or literal sense, but instead let the ‘Purgatorio’ series act as a framework for his own personal interpretation of the world following 9/11. As with the writing of Shakespeare, Denning finds a perpetual relevance in Dante’s work where the specifics of name, situation and place are easily adapted to the modern world; as if time moves on but the problems of humanity remain essentially the same. The events of September 11th and the emotional toll it took on the US identity was a critical element to this body of work. Poignantly enough, this exhibition was held in a ‘pop-up’ location just blocks from Ground Zero and on the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.” [. . .]    —Widewalls Magazine, 2017

On exhibition set- “Inferno”

“This was the first part of my paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Inferno was exhibited at my first solo exhibition in Italy at MAGI’900 Museo, Bologna.”     –Guy Denning, on his site, January 19, 2017

On exhibition set- “Purgatorio”

“This was the second part of my paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Purgatorio was exhibited in Manhattan at a pop-up gallery space by Brooklynite Gallery on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.”    –Guy Denning, on his site, January 30, 2017.

The image above to the right is a painting called “the cardinal virtue of media temperance” from the ‘Purgatorio‘ exhibition.

On exhibition set- “Paradiso”

“This was the third part of my paintings based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Paradiso was exhibited at Signal Gallery in London.”    –Guy Denning, on his site, January 27, 2017.

The image below is a painting called “Looking for Beatrice” from the ‘Paradiso‘ exhibiton.

To view Denning’s full list of exhibitions, check out his website here

“Lines of Fire: Dante’s Vision of Hell still has an Afterlife”

“The world has a handful of supreme poets. Homer, Shakespeare and Goethe are up there. I’m sure you have your own suggestions. All of these writers – even Homer, with his Trojan war epic The Iliad – can be made contemporary to us, made to approximate our world-view. Yet the greatest and most universal poet of all is the least ‘modern’ and at times the most obscure. He is Dante Alighieri.

“The world-view Dante unfolds in mesmerizing images in the three books of his Divine Comedy – Hell, Purgatory and Paradise – is truly medieval. No wonder: he lived most of his life in the 13th century before completing his masterpiece in the early 14th. But it is the relentless Gothic-style Christianity of Dante’s vision that makes it so unnerving: the profound sense of sin behind his biting portraits of the damned in Hell, and the equally absolute faith in a machine-accurate divine justice the poet finally glimpses in Paradise. The Divine Comedy is a dogmatic, cruel work that haunts the imagination like no other. Paradoxically, no ‘modern’ poet has been so frequently illustrated by modern artists; only Byron excites comparable interest. [. . .]

“My own first experience of Dante was a translation of just one part of the Inferno by Seamus Heaney. Ugolino is in Heaney’s collection Field Work, which is a moving response to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Dante’s tale of Ugolino, who was cruelly treated and took bitter revenge in eternity, fits into the landscape of reprisal Heaney depicts. In other words, one reason for Dante’s enduring power is that we have not really left the middle ages. Vendetta still rules. Entire foreign policies, not to mention civil wars and terror campaigns, are based on ideas of revenge and polarities of good and evil just as primitive as anything in Dante.

“Another reason the great Italian challenges us is that he proposes a morally absolute vision of life that cuts through modern relativism like a knight’s broadsword. So the world is ambiguous and our own actions impossible to morally judge? Dante menaces us with the alternative possibility that every act is scrutinized, that every moment of our lives is weighed in the balance.” [. . .]    –Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, May 5, 2011.

When Seagulls Cry (2007)

Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a Japanese visual novel developed by 07th Expansion. The title translates to When Seagulls Cry in English. The series was released in Japan from 2007-2011, and globally through 2016-2017.

“The story focuses on a group of eighteen people on a secluded island for a period of two days, and the mysterious murders that befall them. Readers are challenged to discern whether the murders were committed by a human or of some other supernatural source, as well as the method and motive behind them.” [. . .]    —Umineko When They Cry, Wikipedia, 2018.

Fans of the series have pointed out several references to Dante’s work in the series, such as these found by readers on MyAnimeList:

“I’ve started reading Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy few days ago and I found several analogies with Umineko.

  1. “Names:
    Beatrice – name of deceased Dante’s love, his guide through Heaven
    Virgil – name of Dante’s guide through Hell and Purgatorio
  2. “Structure of Mt. Purgatorio is of the form 2+7+1=9+1=10, with one of the ten regions different in nature from the other nine ( last – Earthly Paradise). It may resemble 10 twilights of the Witch’s Epitaph.
  3. “Dante meets Beatrice at 10th floor, Battler meets Beato at 10th twilight
  4. “Seven Stakes resemble floors 3rd- 9th of Mt. Purgatorio (each floor represents 1 of 7 deadly sins.)
  5. “Magic circles in Umineko have a same names as the Spheres of Heaven:
    First Sphere of the Moon –> First Circle of the Moon” [. . .]    —Azakus, MyAnimeList, October 11, 2009.

To see more of the Dante references fans of When Seagulls Cry have found, check out the full forum discussion on MyAnimeList.

You can buy When Seagulls Cry and check out other games in the series on Steam.

Contributed by Philip Smith (University of the Bahamas)

Hatsune Miku DIVINE-神曲- Xenon-P (2011)

“Ready for some history? How about the Vocaloid clan teaching you the history? These sets of songs come from Dante Alighieri’s most famous writing, The Divine Comedy.” [. . .]    –Demosthenes Alathea on VocaloiDemo, 2016

The tracklist for the album includes:

  1. Introduction –A Seed of Life-
  2. HIMAWARI
  3. Buy Them All
  4. Tatoo
  5. Eat Them All On The Table
  6. Hand To Hand
  7. Incubus
  8. Immortal Soul
  9. Rain of Tears
  10. Survive
  11. Come La Divina Commedia
  12. Birthday

You can purchase the album on Amazon.

Contributed by Savannah Mikus (FSU 2020)

Dante’s 10th Circle of Hell: Garbage Disposals

“My ‘duh!’ advice to every garbage disposal owner? Keep small metal objects FAR FAR AWAY from your sink. And, of course, always double check your garbage disposal before running it.With a fine tooth comb and a magnifying glass. ALWAYS.

“It took Stephen over an hour to pry Abe loose using a flashlight and a variety of tools. He had to detach the garbage disposal from the sink because the penny was lodged standing up against the inner wall of the garbage disposal and was nearly impossible to reach.

“Once he finally got it out, he tossed the penny to me and said, ‘I think Dante forgot to include a tenth circle of Hell for people who drop tiny metal objects into garbage disposals.'” [. . .]    –Caroline Meyers, Ye Olde Sanwich Shoppe, May 2, 2011.

The Dante Trap by Arnaud Delalande (2011)

“Murder follows murder, each more gruesome than the last, and as Viravolta begins to draw the connections between these deaths, and the torments reserved for sinners in each of Dante’s circles of hell, he finds himself embroiled in a terrible game of cat and mouse. As the streets of Venice fill with masked Carnival-goers, and as Anna and Viravolta are once again thrown together, he is drawn further into the inferno, to the heart of a secret sect and a plot to bring about the downfall of the city.” —Orion Books

Contributed by Alessandra Mazzocchi (Florida State University ’19)

“Per me si va…” Gates of Hell Tattoo

Gates-of-Hell-Dantes-Inferno-Tattoo

Image posted on CheckOutMyInk.com.

Magnificent Century, Season 1 (2011)

In Season 1, Episode 14 of  Magnificent Century, Concierge Ibrahim is seen to be reading the Divine Comedy in his office.

Contributed by David Francis

Daily Dante Blog

“Welcome to Daily Dante, a blogging adventure that follows the pilgrim Dante through his journey to hell and back, as we savor the poet Dante’s masterpiece The Divine Comedy.

Daily-Dante-Lenten-Spiritual-Discipline-BlogDaily Dante is a collaborative blog, written by a motley band of Dantophiles living in the Princeton, NJ area. We began during Lent of 2010, when we adopted blogging as a Lenten discipline: a canto a day (excepting Sundays, which technically do not count as Lent), which conveniently allowed us to finish more or less just before Easter. We have completed Inferno, and Purgatorio, and finished blogging through Paradiso during Lent 2012.” — homepage of Daily Dante: Dante as Lenten Spiritual Discipline

 

The Purgatory Home Companion, Mark Abramson and Rob K (2011)

Rob_K-Purgatory-Home-Companion-Mark-Abramson

“The Purgatory Home Companion is an album of music based on Dante’s Purgatorio by trash-blues artist Rob K, which I co-wrote and produced. [. . .]

“The Purgatory Home Companion was a collaborative project which worked as follows: Rob and I sent a request to all the musicians and some of the artists that we know to send us music, noise or spoken word recordings. Some of the contributions were from established artists, like Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Jon Spencer of the Blues Explosion. Some were from our less well known but still talented friends. We received over 100 of these audio contributions. Rob and I organized them, built audio collages from them. I wrote the music around the collaged framework, and Rob wove in the lyrics which were based on his take on Purgatorio.”   — Mark Abramson of Zen Jam Graphic Design and Art Direction Studios

Photo credit Mark Stalnaker.