Guy Denning returns to London with final installment of Dante trilogy


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The Independent Culture

Guy Denning is returning to the London art scene with his first solo show in two years which will complete the final part of his trilogy of exhibitions which interpret Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

Paradiso shows the path to a place of resting, or heaven, inspired by the writings of medieval Italian poet,  Dante Alighieri.

The first two shows in the trilogy, Inferno (hell) and Purgatorio (purgatory) were showcased in Bologna and New York respectively last year.

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Like Dante, Denning draws on relevant political matters to inspire his works but, on this occasion, has chosen Beatrice, Dante's dead love, who is the object of the poet's desire and despair in The Divine Comedy.

The show is a series of portraits of young women who have died young in recent years who symbolise feminine purity and vulnerability. Denning's work suggests that these young women have achieved immortality in their enduring youth.

“I’m doing no different than Dante really,” the artist told The Independent in an interview last year. “He populated the original Inferno with the political schemers and dissemblers of his own time and I’m following his lead.”

Also like Dante, who was expelled from his native Florence for his politics, Denning works in exile of his homeland. He moved to France years ago but his paintings spotlight British failings and political problems in the poet's style.

In the Inferno series Denning used Dante's contrapasso, punishment which “either resembles or contrasts with the sin” its sufferer wrought. Similarly in the Paradiso, Denning's Beatrice is a modern figure whose beauty has been preserved eternally through his art.

“I have never considered myself to be modern day Dante,” he said. “However, I think that personally finding the relevance of a 14 Century poem to modern life shows that the Western World has hardly progressed. Which is a little sad, really.”

Denning’s Paradiso opens 4 October and runs until 27 October, The Signal Gallery, Shoreditch, London,