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Dante’s Divine Comedy has inspired artists almost since the time of its completion in 1320: from Botticelli and Giovanni di Paolo to William Blake and Salvador Dail. His epic poem gives a vivid, imaginary account of a journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven over the course of the three days of Easter 1300. Inferno brings together modern and contemporary works inspired by the intense and dramatic first stage of that journey, through the nine circles of Hell.

Gustave Doré Dante astray in the Dusky Wood, 1948

Canto I ll.1-3 Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, che la diritta via era smarrita. Midway upon the journey of our life I found that I was in a dusky wood; For the right path, whence I had strayed, was lost. (Lawrence Grant White, 1963)

Canto IX ll. 118-20 chè tra gli avelli fiamme erano sparte, per le quali eran sì del tutto accesi, che ferro più non chieda verun’arte. for flames were scattered through the tombs, and these had kindled all of them to glowing heat; no artisan could ask for hotter iron. (Allen Mandelbaum, 1980)

Hepzibah Swinford Dante, 1982 oil on canvas

(Courtney Langdon, 1918)

o ur

t! es tr

nd the darkest pla a t ce, es w an o l o c l o o , s e d e il pi as b h fr ù ù t i os li p cu ’ll è r

Canto IX ll. 28-30

o I know the r o ell d ad; t; w s o an b l cammin: per ist e i ò o t i fa a td es s ;b ec ira

that turns all n e v thin ea h gs e h d a m l n ciel c t nta o l os h e tu iù p om il tta e , g o

Qu e

Th a t is

Alex Heard Untitled (plate), 2022 glazed ceramic 27 x 27 cm

Willie Landels Abandon all Hope ye who Enter Here, 1993 oil on board 122 x 122 cm

Canto XXVI ll 31-3 di tante fiamme tutta risplendea l’ottava bolgia, si com’io m’accorsi, tosto ch’io fui là ‘ve il fondo parea. With flames as manifold resplendent all Was the eighth Bolgia, as I grew aware As soon as I was where the depth appeared. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1867)

Canto XI ll.79-84

Non ti remembra di quelle parole, con le quai la tua Etica pertratta le tre disposizion, che il ciel no vuole; incontnenza, malizia e la matta bestialitade: e come incontinenza men Dio offende, e men biasimo accata? Don’t you recall how Aristotle shows, In the Ethics, that three different kinds of state In humans breed all crimes that can oppose Themselves to heaven’s will? Incontinence, Malice and brutishness: And of those three, Incontinence is held the least offence By God, and so is punished less? (Clive James, 2013)

Andrew Mockett Mr. Greedy and Mr. Lazy, 2018 Four colour woodcut on Japanese Tenjin paper 69 x 63 cm Edition of 20

As its title suggests, Sidney Nolan's print series was inspired by Dante's Inferno. However, the prints are multilayered and speak of more than a representation of the famous Italian text.

Sidney Nolan Inferno VIII, 1967 screenprint 102 x 69 cm Edition of 70

Sidney Nolan Inferno I, Inferno II, Inferno III, 1967 screenprint 102 x 69 cm Edition of 70

Sidney Nolan Inferno IV, Inferno V Inferno VI, 1967 screenprint 102 x 69 cm Edition of 70

Sidney Nolan Inferno VII, Inferno VIII Inferno VX, 1967 screenprint 102 x 69 cm Edition of 70

At the time of painting, Nolan was still grappling with the tragedy of World War II. The horrors and depravity of the holocaust guided his vision for the series of prints. Nolan himself had spent time in the military during World War II, stationed in Australia guarding emergency food supplies. He never made it to the front lines however, absconding in 1944. As Dr Sarah Schmidt (director of the Canberra Museum) notes, it is a painting that also reflects war and the tragedy of war. And, of course, with what is happening in the world right now with Russia invading Ukraine, this is a very relevant picture, because, in a non-literal way, Nolan is grappling with the tragedy of war. or

Canto XX ll. 4-9 Io era già disposto tutto quanto a riguardar nello scoperto fondo, che si bagnava d’angoscioso pianto; e vidi gente per lo vallon tondo venir tacendo e lagrimando, al passo che fan le letaníe in questo mondo. Already I had set myself to peer intently on those now-discovered depths, washed as they were with agonizing tears. I saw the people circling round that trench. And on they came in silence, weeping still – as slow in pace as litanies on earth. Robin Kirkpatrick, 2006

Canto III ll. 4-6

Giustizia mosse il mio alto Fattore; fecemi la divina Potestate, la somma Sapienza e il primo Amore.

Justice it was who prompted my high Maker; It was Divine Authority that made me, The highest Wisdom and the first Affection.’

(Eugene Lee-Hamilton, 1898)

Emma Haworth Inferno watercolour and ink on paper 89 x 69 cm

Canto X ll. 4-6 “O virtù somma, che per gli empi giri mi volvi,” comincai, “come a te piace; parlarmi, e soddisfammi a’ miei desire.” “O sovran power, that through the impious gyres,” Said I, “dost whell me as thou deemest well, Speak to me, satisfy my keen desires.” (Dorothy L. Sayers, 1949)

They say that everyone's idea of heaven is different, so there must be a little piece of heaven in hell, and vice versa.

Perhaps purgatory's for those can't make their minds up? Phil Shaw

Phil Shaw The Divine Comedy, 2022 Eight colour pigment based archival print on Hahnemuhle paper 90 x 90 cm Edition of 60


Canto XI ll. 91-3 “O Sol, che sani ogni vista turbata, tu mi contenti sì, quando tu solvi, che, non men che saver, dubbia m’aggrata.” “O sun that shines to clear a misty vision, such joy is mine when you resolve my doubts that doubting pleases me no less than knowing!” (Mark Musa, 1971)

Bill Mccullough E Quindi Uscimmo, 1992 glazed ceramic 28 x 28 cm

Canto 34 ll. 136-139 salimmo suso, ei primo ed io secondo, tanto ch’io vidi delle cose belle che port ail ciel, per un pertugio tondo; e quindi uscimmo a riveder le stele. He First, and Second I – up, up we rose Till thro’ an Opening, which the sky unbars, Heaven did at last unto mine eyes disclose Its splendours riding in their radiant cars; And then we issued forth to rebehold the Stars. (George Musgrave, 1893)

Emma Haworth Paradiso watercolour and ink on paper 89 x 69 cm

Inferno Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery 2A Conway Street, London W1T 6BA April 2022

Alighieri, Dante, and Lawrence Grant White. The Divine Comedy. New York: Pantheon Books, 1948. Alighieri, Dante and Courtney Langdon. The Divine Comedy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1918. Aligheri, Dante, and Eugene Lee-Hamilton. The Inferno of Dante. Lonson: Grant Richards, 1898. Alighieri, Dante and Clive James. Dante.. London: Picador, 2013. Alighieri, Dante, and Robin Kirkpatrick. Dante: The Divine Comedy. London: Penguin, 2006. Alighieri, Dante, and Allen Mandelbaum. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. New York: Bantam Books, 1982. Alighieri, Dante and Mark Musa. The Divine Comedy. London: Penguin Books, 2003. Alighieri, Dante, and George Musgrave. Dante's Divine Comedy. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co, 1893.

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