Dali: The Divine Comedy
Following his break with the Surrealists in the late 1930's, Salvador Dali continued to experiment. His experimentation, however, led him to wed his iconoclasm with Classicism. He described his shift as a "religious Renaissance based on a progressive Catholicism." It is not, therefore, overly surprising that Dali based one of his most dramatic series of prints on Dante's THE DIVINE COMEDY.
Dali's "Divine Comedy," like Dante's, teems with allegorical imagery and parabolic elements. His use of vibrant purples, oranges and yellows serves to underscore the intensity of suffering that most of the figures he depicts are expressing. The series is both haunting and revealing, putting the viewer into contact with a new understanding of consequences.
In many of his prints, one is conscious not only of the scene itself, but also of the witnessing that is taking place. It is as if Dali is guiding or being guided through the circles of Hell and Purgatory just as Dante was guided by Virgil. Dali's use of tree trunks to represent people is reminiscent of Dante's treatment of the seventh circle of Hell and his juxtaposition of rocks and people remind one of Dante's portrayal of the entry level into Purgatory.
Human foibles and the short-sightedness of human beings runs like a chord through the pieces included in this collection. By taking the viewer outside of the everyday world, Dali conveys both moral and religious truths. The viewer comes away with a reflective attitude and is apt to reassess the risks inherent in those traits that have become second nature.