The exhibition ”Hommage à Dante” by Anne e Patrick Poirier – 1/2023

In January 2023 Anne and Patrick Poirier are in Milan for the exhibition project curated by Lóránd Hegyi and Angela Madesani, dedicated to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, and supported by the Institut français Milano. In relation to the subdivision of the poem, the artist couple has dedicated a body of work to Enfer/Hell, Purgatoire/Purgatory and Paradis/Heaven, showing a personal and modern interpretation of Dante’s journey into the otherworldly realm. Each cantica (as Dante names the three chapters of his narration) will be hosted in three locations in Milan: Enfer/Hell at Casa degli Artisti, Purgatoire/Purgatory at Galleria Fumagalli and Paradis/Heaven at Antonini Milano’s venue in Palazzo Borromeo.

Curators Lóránd Hegyi and Angela Madesani stated: «After a long reflection and a free interpretation of the three chapters of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, French artists Anne and Patrick Poirier have created an impressive work that involves the different languages used by the artists over the years. It all started in the first year of Covid, when the pandemic was raging. During the months of lockdown, in their house in the Provencal countryside, the two artists – who have been working together for over fifty years – decided to reinterpret one of the most important poems of Western literature. They thought that, for the first time, humanity has received a clear message about its end. Thus, they created three coherent yet different series.
In Hell, the imaginary and highly symbolic journey, carried out and narrated by the medieval poet, manifests in a quite
linear representation of scenes. The dramatic situation represented in Hell – a bande dessinée, a long comic, 80 cm high and 30 meters long in which scenes are not separated – is depicted with only two emblematic colors, red and black: blood, life and death. And this is consistent with the dystopias recently proposed in their artistic research. Purgatory shows a less dramatic, more pictorial dimension, which implements a wild imagery and a variety of colors. It consists of works that are independent of each other, in which the situation of suspension arises.

The non-representative and immaterial feature of the third chapter matches with the abstract character of Dante’s Heaven, in which the words evoke intelligible spheres and intellectual and philosophical perspectives rather than depicting figures and actions. Here, the artists work with non-mimetic images, which also reflect luminous and atmospheric phenomena, as well as texts that activate strongly symbolic references linked to Dante’s culture but also
to that of our time.»

Anne and Patrick Poirier pay homage to Dante, father of literature in the country that hosted them – on the occasion of their residency at the French Academy in Rome, from 1968 to 1972 – which has inspired them for a long time and where they often return in search of a closer contact with classical history and the past. The tribute to Dante’s work fits perfectly within Anne and Patrick Poirier’s investigation: from the early stages of their joint work at the end of the
1960s, they critically reflect on contemporary society and on the fragility of collective memory, drawing on metaphors,
images and great narratives of the past, spanning from classical mythology to ancient architecture, as well as cornerstones of Western literature.

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