MALEBOLGE

malebolge
MALEBOLGE

pen and watercolour on paper
2008-9 - 2009 - three times 405 x 650 mm

DETAILS :

  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image

WORK IN PROGRESS

  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image

For a long time I had wanted to create a triptych. It pleases me to think that every painter / draughtsman should make one because it is more complex to create as it spans three surfaces. So when I was invited to participate in a show on Dante's Divine Comedy, I immediately said yes and I felt deep down it was going to be something special. The show was to tour Europe, and perhaps even leave the continent. Finally it stranded at its second show and we all had to see we got our works back, but that is another story and too negative to add here. The positive side is that it incited me to create this triptych. And a trip it was, believe me!
The Divine Comedy was really the subject that had attracted me for a very long time, not in the least because of its powerful visionary atmosphere that I would have to try and render without becoming a mere illustrator. I am not against illustrators, far from. What they do is like rafting on a mountain stream whilst I want to swim in it like a fish.
But anyone who whispers Divinia Commedia and visual art, also yells Gustave Doré . That's unavoidable. In case it would not be clear: I adore Doré's work. I gladly join Dorothea Tannig when she called him Gustave l'Adoré. And I immediately realised that I could never evoke the same poweful, awe-inspiring global vision he created. Should I try a specific scene, or a global impression? What's more, a triptych on the three parts of the work was out of question. Not only could I never create a work on Paradiso as I cannot imagine it the way Dante describes it - my vision is much closer to the central panel of Bosch' Garden of Earthly Delights. This has got nothing to do with believing in Inferno and not in Paradiso, but because Paradiso lies beyond imagination - those who know, know what I mean. All artworks I know of that display Paradises are meek and unattractive. Also I could never do anything as obvious as creating a triptych with each panel depicting one part of Dante's book. I need a touch of personal extravaganza and not do as is expected.
So I decided to make it not the obvious Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso triptych, but one drawing on Inferno that spans three separate panels, allowing me to go beyond the boundaries set by my favourite paper's largest size. The subject would of course be labyrinthic and have a swirling, downwards movement, a bit like Edgar Allan Poe's very important story 'Descent into the Maelstrom'. That is when Malebolge came into view.

Malebolgia, which translates as 'Evil Ditches' is part of the construction of Dante's Inferno. I decided to make it a kind of labyrinth with passages that are impossible to cross, and, whilst browsing through some of my sketchbooks, I found the initial idea for the central drawing. From then on it was only drawing, drawing and even more drawing. It gushed unto the paper like a wild mountain stream and took over whatever it could. Soon I had to put all other projects aside and concentrate fully on this triptych.

The pen work was finished in 2008, the colouring done during the first months of 2009. When I look back at it now, several years later, I know I could have, or better: could make it better now. I want to refine it, add more detail. But I know it is best to leave it like it is so it does not lose its initial power in what would be mannerist refinement.