Inferno III: The Gates of Hell
Ink on paper, 2016
22 x 15”
Dante and Virgil soon arrive at the Gates of Hell, whose forboding inscription reads “Abandon All Hope, You Who Enter Here.”
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Dante struggled with deeply conflicted feelings about his native city, Florence. Exiled in 1301 because of his affiliation with a political faction known as the White Guelphs, he spent the next several years traveling and writing, his chief accomplishment being La Commedia.
The symbol of Florence for many centuries has been the fleur-di -lis, and in depicting his arrival with Virgil at the entrance to l'Inferno, I wanted primarily to do two things: emphasize the scale of Hell's formidable architecture and—perhaps more importantly—investigate whether some analogous relationship could be forged with Florence. I have incorporated the fleur-di-lis in many places in the series, and this is its first appearance (in the ornamentation on the pyramidal part of the structure on top).
Incidentally, the stepped pyramid above the inscription is a deliberate foreshadowing to the Purgatorial mountain, whose seven levels Dante must ascend in Purgatorio, before reaching Paradise and his beloved Beatrice.