Antithesis – Battlefield

Chants XVIII – XXV

Fallen Conquest

Antithesis( 1) Fallen Conquest



Antithesis (2) Procession

Alone in the Fear Claws
Mixed media - drawing, pen & ink, colored pencil


These new etchings and drawing illustrating Chants XXIII – XXV of the Inferno, which continue the series of etchings dedicated to Dante’s Inferno – «Restitutio in Integrum» -, represent an innovative approach as regards the previous etchings, since as the Artist confided «… it creates a new visual, juxtaposing two or three pieces allowing the compositions to communicate sustaining itself together as one unit».

Indeed, the richness of details and descriptions in these Chants (the Eighth Circle of the Fraudulent), namely of the violent against God and Nature (the Blasphemers, the Sodomites and the Usurers) or the Speculators and the Hypocrites, makes it difficult to reduce the strong image of Dante’s poem in a personal artistic vision.

In Antithesis I – the Fallen Conquest, the Simonists with the sole of their feet seared with fire, and the torments suffered by the other sinners who used violence against God, Nature and Art.

In Antithesis II – the Procession, the Speculators guarded and tormented by beastly Demons and the Hypocrites downhearted looking down.

In Alone in the Fear Claws, the Forerunner – the Messenger –, the single character, outside the visual field of the image, is the balance unit, which counterbalances the monolithic picture, made of three juxtaposed vertical panels – triptych – where the composition is intentionally overcrowded.

According to the Artist: «Suggestive, the eight circles are designed and specifically delimited, like sequences with action (composition) taken from one section to another. The Four Cardinal points, perceived from four different corners, are connected in one point, like a lens aperture, that opens and closes. In turn the four types of vision stand for the four moral virtues, the fundament of Purgatory.

In this structure, the expression and gesture are chained, like a bridge, intertwined of human bodies, counterbalancing through the “raccourci” of the composition. The human bodies become the elements of a wall or bridge».

Dante’s Divina Commedia with its deepness, complexity and rich visual imagination has been ‘interpreted’ over the centuries by many different artists, each trying to catch and express the poem’s message and essence. To name but a few: Botticcelli, Giovanni Stradano, John Flaxman, William Blake, William Bouguereau, Franz von Bayros, and above all Gustav Doré and Salvador Dali, who all left their mark in interpreting the poem through superb artistic creations.

With such predecessors it is only natural that contemporary artists, namely graphic artists and engravers, do not venture. Yet, this is precisely what Elena Hlodec has attempted with immense creativity and power to express in drawing and etching the most inner deep emotions of the human soul, portrayed in Dante’s poem.

José Vicente de Bragança

May 2017