The Divine Comedy! It has been a burning flame, a reading, an
engrossing experience which I have treasured for many seasons,
reflecting the essence of many years of work. This has been a
completely new adventure, incomparable to my former series on
Lazaril16 de Tormes or The Rooms by Politian, the Gospel
according to Saint Mark or the Apocalypse.
has been completely different. This text has represented an
interpretation, a conquest, a continuous strife for the light of
the painting, of the form, of the discovery of the mystery of
the words of Dante, associated with the universal examples of
the human condition. Fantasy, a firm belief in painting, not an
opportunity to illustrate a number of events.
artist cannot limit himself to a graphic reproduction of
expressions, attitudes, symbolic compositions of figures and
objects; such a pure representation cannot reflect the
fascination of the blood and spirit, of the interpretation of
has been a discovery, seen through eyes spanning centuries, of
an imperishable world whose images are as concrete as rock.
Where feelings and passions are sculpted in an absolute form,
which we nevertheless read and interpret with present-day eyes.
Faith, love, hate, passions which, like sizzling magma,
profoundly move and jolt the feelings of Man as the Comedy does,
cannot be rendered by mere graphic illustrations.
aspect has been fundamental for me. When reading the Comedy one
is not only engrossed in the poetry, in the life and history of
the poet who, like all heroes of thought, embodies all the
passions of humanity and of his tirne. The history of the
representation of forms has not passed in vain. The text of the
Comedy has not only represented an illustrative test of pure
representation to me, but a dramatic, determined action. Sinking
the scalpel into the very heart of my painting.
illustrations of the Comedy is a case apart. The Neogothic,
Romantic atmosphere of the period is reflected by the
sentimental romanticism conveyed by the images, congenial to an
interpretative keynote: the public, the reader easily identified
with these illustrations, and still does.
approach has been very different. I have focused on the Divine
Comedy in order to depict the forms and figures of Dante's most
voice, in symbiosis with my painting, with the reality and with
the dream; to render my interpretation of Dante in images. In a
completely individual manner. To render them tangible, concrete,
reflecting all my experience, focusing on the image imprinted in
my fantasy, rather than the representations handed down by
have dedicated several years to this research, to this itinerary
which has coincided with moments of life, with a vivid poetic
reality, and with decisions" which have not always been
didactic. Hell, Purgatory and
have represented elements balancing one another, unravelling,
image by image, the ways, the inventions, the aggregate and red
thread of the poetry.
the bodies interpenetrate, merging like infernal, heavenly or
purgatorial larvae in a concoction formed by the intertwining
and blend- ing of the souls, who are borne and die in the body
of colour. The beastly violence is reflected by the purity of
the slight deformations of the bodies, the subtle colour of sin,
the abyss of the skies and the white light of Hell. The
supernatural forces are magnified and unravelled in the forms;
fire, a concrete flame, becomes a body. The poem is legend, but
also a direct relationship with the stone and the sordid chaos.
Cain, in the second canto of the
? I have sought, delving in the depths of the reality, of the
vivid myth of the poem. I have identified, in each painting,
with the diverse reasons for the attitude of the spirit, with
the deformation of every figure, every face, every expression.
dynamic colours, imposed by the large variety of significances,
by the emotional spell, by the contrasting ideas referring to
different epoches, also of my life. This project has required an
active participation, a day to day commitment, lasting six years.
shapeless magma of the colour and the lines thus gradually
assume a global conformation. It is invented and grows, forming
always new combinations with the finished images and those to
come, in a unity that is as vital and different as the life and
poetry of Dante.
have therefore worked in complete autonomy, unrestricted by an
illustrative interpretation. The poetry of the Comedy cannot be
limited to a period and its style. It remains alive as time goes
by, in a spiritual sphere, becoming carnal or virtuous according
to the destiny of men and events. I have thought that my vision,
as a painter, of Dante's phrase "words are stones" had
to guide my fantasy and invention, as a way to integrate the
forms and colour evoked with the tissue of our everyday life.
Not a translation, but a continuous invention of the image, a
reflection of the continuity of life and death.
monstrous and divine mirror, reflecting our every day existence.
The frightful genocide of the sufferings of the lager, in an
interpenetra- tion of dire monsters. The light, however
difficult, of an illusory and dramatically fantastic
, of concepts that defy representation. The penitences of the
Purgatory, as frightful as those of Hell, a gradualness of
sufferings illuminated solely by hope, without limits in time,
but at least a light. The figure may be deformed and monstrous
in a continuous metamorphosis of torments and sufferings, or by
the bliss and happiness of attained faith.
the painter can, with colour, only render and convey a clear
message by identifying with the words of the poet. By living the
passion, which has given rise to love and hate, revenge and the
soft mutter of the contemplation of the unspeakable.
only resort of the artist is to enter in a medium, in a
communication which goes beyond the reality and significance of
the verses, of the words, identifying with the splendor of what
Dante created and turned into poetry.
time I started a painting it was like venturing into a vortex, a
torrent which I had to negotiate upstream. But with the patience
of in- vention, in a lucid dream, the hand and the brush almost
automatically reflected, as if in a burning-glass, the sun of
Dante, its true colour, the incessantly pursued and perhaps
never captured image. To make the coIour rise, with the light
that breaks and frays the form, the red mingIed with green, blue
with yellow and crimson, is creating fire, a tissue, an
intertwining of the different coIours in a suIphureous magma in
which they are intensified by one another. Asimmering of simiIar
and contrasting coIours, reminiscent of a vital fermentation, is
have constantly felt the need for a pictorial morality. The
formal motivations have never limited my creativity. The
continuity has also been given by the breaks and leaps of the
composition, by the aggregate of certain continuous motives, by
the constant tie between poetry and the creations of the spirit.
by the everyday relationship between Iife and dream, in a unity
transcending both death and life.
have sought to depict my ideals of struggle against the mad
bestiality latent in
The expression of poetry. which painting can give, or have given,
to my interpretation of Dante.
have been moments, months, years of feverish elaboration, pauses
of reflection and reading, of fixated contemplation as I
elaborated the painting as a live material in continuous growth.
has been an exquisite Inferno, sometimes made of pink and light
bIue, and sometimes a
in which the futility of everything that Man has created, with
words mirroring light, is pure reflection, negation of life.
In fact, Dante mar also be an expression of the nullity of Man's
effort to exist. But faith, the divine illumination which has
become colour and form, the mass of pulsating, live meat, cannot
be an object made of nothing. It is life that suffers, pulsates,
is destroyed by sin. But does sin exist?
is a sin not to live love. In Dante the grandiosity of the
concepts, immense, continuously convey the perfect form, the
sense and the fear of the infinite.
does not mean that the painter must deny form, colour, drawing
or beauty. He must not, therefore, limit his means of expression.
Painting is not a symbol: it is extremely concrete. It is
accomplished within itself, in a continuous battle with
existence. A dialectic with the figure of Man which gives
immense space for Painting;