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  • Robert Brinkerhoff

Inferno: XXXII: Dante and Duplicity


Inferno XXXII: Ink on paper, 2021 22 x 15” Finally arriving at the floor of hell, the frigid lair of Lucifer himself, Dante maneuvers with Virgil along the frozen ground, only to realize that thousands of traitors are embedded up to their heads in ice. He kicks one in the face, and a testy exchange ensues. * * * When I finished this drawing I realized that I am nearing the end of the project, finally. I began in 2016 and worked on it in fits and starts over the past few years. My hope is to complete the very last touches on 14 September 2021, exactly 700 years after Dante died in Ravenna.


One thing is certain: Dante despises the duplicitous—the frauds and traitors who betrayed others in real life. They assume many incarnations in L'Inferno, and—as we will see in Canto XXXIV, the final chapter of the first part of La Commedia, Lucifer is surrounded by them, including three of the most dastardly turncoats in history. In the latter portion of this canto, however, he (accidentally on purpose?) kicks a cad named Bocca degli Abati in the face and argues with him in an effort to learn his name. He does so fervently, to the point of displaying a rare moment of physical violence in tearing out Bocca's hair.


I really enjoyed making this drawing. The most deliberately meaningful element is Bocca's reflection on the icy surface of the River Cocytus—I couldn't resist the chance to riff on the "two-faced" motif.

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