Matt Kish’s Inferno Illustrations (2020)

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“I have always been fascinated by the crude and vulgar spectacle of Inferno. Perhaps some of what follows is more personal than validated by scholarship, but despite his clear devotion to Christianity and deep and abiding belief in dogma, Dante seems to relish in his bizarre portrayal of the torments of Hell. I think I remember the poem was originally written in low, or street, Italian rather than formal language, because Dante wanted the tone to match the content and for the work to be something everyone could read. My experience growing up with comic books in particular was that they too were a kind of low, vulgar entertainment. Designed to titillate and provoke, but in no way were they deemed serious or valid art. There was a sort of dirty appeal to the comics I saw on the shelf in the grocery store, especially the pulpy black and white horror comic magazines like Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. For my approach to Inferno, I wanted to borrow heavily from this lurid, brightly colored, sickly appealing visual style as well as the connotations of what comics seemed to be to my young mind. So this is mirrored in my painting style, which is very bright and graphic and employs linework over tone and value (essentially, I paint like one should draw, I don’t paint like one should paint) as well as in my collaging bits of text and image from comics into the illustrations.”    —Matt Kish (personal email communication, September 28, 2020)

You can check out the full series and Kish’s other works on his website.