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  • Writer's pictureRobert Brinkerhoff

Inferno IX: A Rude Reception

Inferno IX: The Furies at the Gates of Dis

Ink on paper, 2023

22 x 15”

Inferno IX: The Furies at the Gates of Dis

Ink on paper, 2016

22 x 15”

Arriving at the gates of the city of Dis, Dante and Virgil are accosted by three furies, minions of Medusa.

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Dante and Virgil meet some formidable foes in the furies, Greek figures of vengeance with bat wings and snakes for hair, who carried instruments of torture and punishment: a whip, a chalice of poison and a torch. They hover at the gates of Dis, a walled city whose architecture included mosques (presumably inspired by Jerusalem of the 14th century). Because Islam was a relatively new religion—considered heresy in the eyes of the Church and was certainly not Christianity—its monuments were fitting features of a city whose primary descriptive elements contradict conceptions of Paradiso.

The original drawing (second, above) has been re-worked. I studied it for a long time and finally concluded that its extreme contrast (bright teeth and eyes, among other things) was too reductive, and it evoked the visual language of comics—something I wasn't hoping for. I added a great deal of density and darkness to parts of this image. The furies are not supposed to be silly.

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