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Madrid, an exhibition of “Dantesque Illustrations in the World 1983-2021”

Madrid, una mostra su "Illustrazioni dantesche nel Mondo 1983-2121"

An exhibition entitled “Hyper modern Dante: Dantesque illustrations in the World 1983-2021” has been organised by the Italian Cultural Institute in Madrid, under the aegis of the Italian Embassy in Madrid, in collaboration with the Società Dantesca Italiana and the ADI (Italianists’ Association). The event, set up on the Institute’s premises, will run from 11 November to 7 January 2022, and is promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

This cultural initiative provides an effective, representative overview of the more recent stages of the long history of illustrations of Dante’s works. After the highly successful series by Gustavo Doré, many great artists have worked on researching new ways to represent the “Divine Comedy” and some of them, like Dalì, Guttuso, and Rauschenberg, have achieved significant results. This exhibition specifically brings together various experiences, techniques, and methodologies, including artists who work the traditional way (Mimmo Paladino, Monika Beisner, or Tom Phillips). The event is a real tour of the contemporary, wide-ranging and multi-faceted visual culture, full of formal works, able to point towards new interpretative ways ahead. The nine silk-screenings by Tom Phillips (1983), taken from the 139 illustrations of the Dantesque edition, provide proof of an original language that combines pop immediacy with a refined, powerful quest to find means of expression. On the other hand, there are the egg temperas by Monika Beisner (2001), the first female artist to illustrate the entire “Divine Comedy”. Then there’s Mimmo Paladino (2021), who uses drawing, revisited in an experimental sense, to probe the archaic roots of Dante’s poem, opting for a ‘shamanic’ approach, and looking at Dante’s verses again through the filter of his own poetic – artistic works. Various techniques by Paolo Barbieri and Emiliano Ponzi (both 2012) are on display. The former reconciles tradition and innovation, allowing the viewer to see the “pencils”, the original black sketches, turn into very colourful final prints, in which the fantastic settings mark out a heretofore unseen interpretative scenario. Emiliano Ponzi, however, goes fully digital, creating surrealist-type scenes, at times disturbing, which bring Dante into a strange type of contemporaneity.

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