Starting the Comedy

The response to the Behemoth work was constructive and useful. It was well hung by Red Propeller and all in all I’m fairly happy how it all turned out. Now I’m back home it’s time to get on with the next project that already has about ten paintings started. Much like the last show’s work, based on Dreyer’s film about Joan of Arc, the next project is something I’ve been loosely tumbling over in my head for a fair old time – Dante’s Divine Comedy.
I started the work earlier this year as I was coming to the end of the Behemoth paintings but the original inspiration to actually approach the subject came from Tom Phillip’s interpretation (the book was a birthday gift over twenty five years ago), this then led to me getting the Dore illustrations of the text, and then the poem itself. I have attempted to start the project a couple of times since then but I didn’t have the available time to disappear into it fully, consequently the efforts were only useful in identifying how I didn’t want to progress the work.
After various email conversations with far more informed people than me (in particular an English arts journalist and an Italian arts academic) I’ve been directed to some really useful research on the subject.
I certainly will not be illustrating the poem as I feel that has not only been done far more effectively than I could do (or would even want to do), but there will be little room to work in a manner where I can interpret and evolve the work to reflect the current political and moral issues that I feel deeply about.
The work is more likely to be a blend of Dante’s and Denning’s journey. Clearly I will be led by the inspiration I’ve always found in the original text but I want to explore my own personal prejudices along the way. This is going to be a very busy year in terms of actual painting work – I will be exhibiting The Inferno in Bologna next January, Purgatory will be shown in New York in September and then there’s Paradise. We don’t have a venue for that yet but we’ll have at least a year to find one. Assuming I can actually deal with painting Paradise…


preparatory drawing for “Inferno” work


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