Cantica 21. Dante Alighieri and the Italian Artists

There divine comedyan all-time literary masterpiece and one of the best-selling books in the world, is still talked about, and this time through five superb Contemporary Art projects. Valentina Furian, Marinella Senator, Marta Roberti, Silvia Camporesi And Leone Contini are the artists selected for the exhibition “Cantica 21. Dante Alighieri and the Italian Artists”, which is currently being held at the Italian Cultural Institute in Paris until 11 May next. The exhibition is promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death (1321-2021) and is linked to the traveling project Cantica21 Italian contemporary art everywhere which sees the participation of 45 artists. The initiative aims to promote and improve the production of works by Italian artists or residents of Italy by exhibiting their works in the Italian cultural institutes abroad. Valentina Furian presents dual channel video audio installation, Pig (Bevilacqua la Masa Foundation Collection, Venice), the name of a cursed man known for his gluttony, which we find in canto VI of Hell. We are in the group of freezing sinners affected by pouring rain and hail, these are guarded by Cerberus, the three-necked monster. This video looks at the relational dynamics between animal and human.

Cantica 21. Dante Alighieri and the Italian Artists (Leone Contini)

The installation To climb to the stars (Museo del Novecento e del Contemporaneo Collection of Palazzo Fabroni, Pistoia) by Marinella Senatore is inspired by the XXIV and XXV songs of hell, that is, in the bedlam of thieves, where there is Vanni Fucci from Pistoia, a black guelph. In addition to the transcription of Dante’s passages, we find here in bronze, silver and lead three identical sculptures of dancing women. Their energy and positivity allude to a kind of redemption of Fucci’s cursed soul, hence the title To rise to the stars, against which purgatory closes. Bestiary of the other world by Marta Roberti, is an installation about the metamorphosis between animal and human, which has the shape of a large leporello book as a screen, this is composed of eight backlit drawings on carbon paper. The theme is the animals that Dante encountered in divine comedy.

Cantica 21. Dante Alighieri and the Italian Artists (Marta Roberti)

Silvia Camporesi presents The hidden doctrine (Lissone Museum of Contemporary Art Collection), a photographic installation for which he took inspiration from the text Esotericism of Dante (1925) by René Guenon, and worked on the numerical symbolism present in the comedy, see the three numbers as: 3 and 9, 7 and 22, 515 and 666. The work, which is composed of 22 drawings and photographs, also looks at the great iconography of the esoteric tradition as well as the well-known alchemy text.Atalanta fugiens by Michael Maier et al The Tower of Babel by Athanasius Kircher as in French roulette. Leone Contini ind Mount Purgatory (Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art, Prato), gathers Dante’s mountain of reconciliation again, which becomes a “purgatory for the contemporary”. This has a pile of pebbles with a seedling on top that takes energy and life from the waste. Not many writers have inspired figurative art as much as Dante with his iconic red tunic and laurel wreath, and divine comedy. His first portrait was painted by Giotto, followed by others like Botticellis, not to mention the enormous iconography dedicated to the divine comedy, see the well-known illustrations by Gustave Doré. Over the years, there have been several cultural initiatives dedicated to the relationship between the supreme poet and figurative art. Dante’s house in Torre de ‘Passeri in Abruzzo, at the instigation of Corrado Gizzi, has organized numerous exhibitions with great figure interpreters of Dante, ranging from Michelangelo, to Raphael, to Signorelli, to Gabriel Rossetti, to Sassu, to Guttuso, and so on. The imaginary world of divine comedy has stimulated the creativity of artists at all times for its ability to talk about problems that can be easily traced back to any era in which the protagonist is man gripped between good and evil. This Parisian exhibition also fuels an old debate about Dante’s supposed and “mysterious” journey to Paris.

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