The Beginning of the End
The Beginning of the End

Mixed media – drawing, pen & ink, colored pencil, 23cm X 42 cm, 2017

«Upon leaving Inferno, Dante and Virgil stand before the Purgatory described as an island mountain with several circles or slopes where the souls of the sinners arrive by boat in order to purify their spirits through repentance and aiming at reaching the Earthly Paradise.

Two slopes lay before the entrance guarded by the Angel; the remaining seven circles, representing the seven deadly sins, lay between the gates of Purgatory and the top of the mountain where is the Garden of Eden separated by a wall of fire.

The sins decrease in severity as the souls climb the mountain.

Time spent by souls in each circle depends on the capital sins they have committed in life, undergoing different penalties aiming at reaching purification.

The upper part of the mountain has seven lower slopes were souls are punished for the seven deadly sins: pride, by dragging themselves in the soil under heavy weights; envy by having their eyes sewed; wrath by being surrounded by clouds of smoke; sloth by forcing them to run without stop, greed by forcing souls to lay down without being able to move; gluttony by forcing souls to be hungry having lots of food before them; lust by having their souls burned.

Chant I describe Dante’s and Virgil exit from Inferno and the vision of four stars filling with light the sky at the South Pole. The stars represent the cardinal virtues or the four moral virtues – prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, which can be practiced by anyone. The stars light up an old bearded man with long white hair giving him a divine aspect. It was Cato of Utica.

In Chant II the boatman – a white angel – brings the souls to the island mountain, meeting Dante and Virgil they are stunned and are urged to step down and enter the island mountain and start climbing it. Dante meets the spirit of his friend Casella.

Chant III – Dante in the Ante-Purgatory and the first circle or slope with the souls of the excommunicated – those condemned to rove in the mountain for 30 times the time they disowned the Church, the negligent – those who did repent before death, the un-absolved – the spirits of those who had delayed repentance, and met with death by violence, but died repentant, the negligent ruler – in the midst of a valley lies of group of souls who are the rulers who were virtuous, but negligent of salvation in life, and who must now wait and pray here until they are admitted to Purgatory proper.

The Artist sought inspiration through spiritual purification – aligning one’s soul with the divine Oneness – and thus allowing imagination to rebuild visually a new interpretation of Dante’s Purgatory.

In this drawing illustrating the three first Chants of Purgatory – an Island Mountain – with its nine circles or slopes where souls purge their sins and that must be climbed before reaching its top – the Earthly Paradise – are depicted characters, questioning glances and anamorphic movements in a static hierarchic landscape. The balance immerges from the imbalance of the angles and the intertwined sides give birth to new forms and geometrical designs. The drawing was conceived as a giant Character, watching over us, that incorporates within other characters, Nature, Metaphysics and Symbolism. Dante’s descent into Inferno is now his climb in the symmetrical determined territory by the two “Stars”; the Night and Day, therefore a vertical sense.

The Four Stars – the four moral virtues – also represent the symbol of number 4 in Pythagoras theory in order to further nourish a new creation. The Sun, the Celestial Nature, are suggestions of the archaic times and primordial universal symbols found in Babylon and in Mexican pre-Colombian civilizations, where the Sun is the father of human race, the father of life.

The Sun at the symmetry of the central position, defines an asymmetrical composition where the balance between the fundamental principles, static and dynamic, are antagonistic, yet complementary. The circles in turn are capturing the emotions in a single, focal point, relaunching the climbing on the territory of the highest mountain of the worlds.

Dante’s Time from Inferno, perpetual, unlimited, described as being a time of history and memory is symmetrical with definite time, night and day, in Purgatory, becomes a time of reflection yet of action, being the time imposed by the Pythagorean numbers. It is a theory of ascensions where what is high up in the Superior Entities is to be found as well in the Inferior Forms.

That is why the work is somehow divided in two sections suitable – the Past, Inferno which is about to end through the Archangel that would make an appearance and the Present, invocation, Purgatory, the Celestial Space, the New Paradise»

José Vicente de Bragança.

Flesh and God
Flesh and God
Mixed media – drawing, pen & ink, colored pencil 23X42 cm, 2017

«In “Flesh and God” the drawing is built upon the central axis of the silhouette of the Purgatory – the background characters, born from the heavy structure of rocks and earth fibers. The island mountain of Purgatory is depicted rising to the Celestial heights where the Sun personifies triumph and a symbol of supreme purification.

The basis of the drawing, the bodies, regards, the posture are caught from the very beginning verses of Chant IV when one is under the sign of primal feelings, or emotions, sorrow, pleasure, which engulfs the entire soul with the simple meaning of extreme concentration upon sensation. The characters, which enter or leave, hidden or present in gesture are the shadows of the soul – amputated – we can say are the same as in Inferno, but without mythological beings.

Another aspect depicted, is Dante’s journey with Virgil, which contrary to Inferno’s, takes place in daytime and is described as an experiment of purification which becomes less and less tiresome as long as the souls climb higher on the Supreme Mountain.

The extreme pain of climbing is suggested by the imaginary drawing of the Spiral, the same as in the Golden Proportion or in Fibonacci Numbers. The anamorphic distortion of the characters belonging to some of Dante’s heroes mentioned in Chant VI – namely, Federico Novello and Pier de la Broccia – depicted as vivid images, much the same as in the Dante’s Inferno’s damned».

José Vicente de Bragança