Friday, January 18, 2013

''Dante at the Gates of Paradise''


''Dante at the Gates of Paradise''
Bronze ... Unique.

15ins. High x 15ins.
{0.38m x 0.38m}

Private Collection, Ireland. 

 The Story ...   
I could write a book about this but this is the short version ...

In 1998 on the East coast of Italy and without mentioning any town names there was an exhibition to be held for invited artists to make a small sculpture in any material with Dante's 'Inferno' as the theme.   

                                       Dante, also known as the 'Father of the Italian Language' was an Italian poet of the middle ages and was born in Florence, Italy in about 1265. He wrote the Inferno, an epic poem which also became known as 'Divine Comedy'. In short it's about his journey through Hell in finding God. This work is widely considered to be the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and so for that very reason has been depicted by many artists in the past.

                                      At this time I was in and out of Italy quite often doing symposiums that I was regarding it as my 'second home' that some of the sculptors thought that I was living there full time as we were beginning to meet up at different events and so maybe it was that my name was submitted to take part in this exhibition by one of these artists  ... but it did not really matter to me as to how I was invited my name was starting to 'move' about and that was important to me in building up my reputation as an artist and everything helps if you are on the fringe.

                                     Today I don't remember much details about the exhibition only that it was going to get a lot of coverage in the media and a catalog was to be printed with a biography of the artist and the work, which was to be on exhibition for a number of months so the 'challenge' was taken up by me because I asked myself and not to miss an opportunity, '' would I made a sculpture on Dante's 'Inferno' if  it was left to myself '' ... maybe, but I don't think so ... and so destiny calls.

                                     My sculpture was made with the intention as me being 'Dante' going through the different experiences to reach God, in this way and I still do it today in my work, I 'become' the sculpture which I feel leads to a more meaningful artwork ... it's like showing all your emotions and all that goes into making you human, in 3d. The one thing I was not going to do in my sculpture was to compete with all the other works that went before, because I couldn't, and the second thing I was going to do, was to make Dante 'mine'.

                                     In the sculpture I am showing Dante {me} as a 'ball' that rolled through all the Hell's, {Life} to reach the Gates of Paradise, {Death} only to find he cannot pass through and looking in at the Garden of Eden, {Heaven} and at the Tree of Knowledge, {God} growing from The Rock, [Faith}. The disc base is symbolic of the Earth ... as above so below.

                                  'Dante at the Gates of Paradise' was bronzed in Dublin, crated, insured and shipped off to Italy in good time for the exhibition ... and heard no-more about it for nearly two years ... my 'Dante' had gone 'missing'. When the exhibition was over I had paid for the work to be returned to Ireland but when I was not getting any information from the organizers to my letters as to where my 'Dante' was I was getting more and more angry over my 'missing' Dante and so I got Interpol involved thinking nothing more was going to come of it in the sense that they have more important things to be doing and finding than 'Dante at the Gates of Paradise'. Gave all my information to Interpol and got on with life as it was until one day and some months later a courier van pulls into my yard and unloaded a wooden crate from Italy. 'Dante' had returned home ... but not for long.

                                The wooden crate was on the floor in my studio, the van had just pulled out of my yard and in drives a 'buyer' ... a couple of hours later bye-bye 'Dante'. At this time I sold my work mostly from my own studio as I don't like to give the galleries the high commission on sales ... if a sculptor makes a work in bronze and by the time all monies are paid out not much is left for the artist but the gallery is 'good' for exposure and getting your name circulated but I still maintain that if I can sell my work without a gallery, better still. 

                                 The 'buyer' was known to me and would be in no great rush to part with money to buy art work, mostly paintings for his small but good collection, until he was completely satisfied with what he was buying. I thought he had just come to visit me as he was known to do now and again because he liked to come around to see work in progress ... and for my coffee .. but today was different. Today he had his mind made up that he was in the market to buy sculpture and a piece from me but he had no idea as to what he wanted to buy. 

                                   Now I have learned over the years that when a collector is buying not to rush them into thinking they have to buy and at the same time not to let them feel they have all time in the world so this is where the artist becomes confident in his or her work .. you have a price and that's it, nothing worse in selling something below it's value and having regrets later ... but my buyer had his mind made up that he was going home with 'something' from my studio because, and this is the nice part, the next day was his one and only son's 21st birthday and he, the father, was going to start off the son's collection with a sculpture from daf ... I would like to think that his son is collecting today.

                                    So, here we are, standing in my studio going through the small talk when for the sake of me doing something but mostly wanting to see what condition my 'Dante' was in after been through his own Hell's started opening the box ... all eyes were on the box, me telling the 'buyer' that the sculpture was just back from Italy and the story behind it in brief but he was now very interested both in the story and in seeing the sculpture as I was. Now at this time he did not tell me his real reason for visiting me but I knew by his lead-up talk that he was getting to it when off popped the lid. Removing 'Dante's' wrappings and pulling him from the box I was happy to see he was not damaged in any way, in fact looking better than I had expected but the buyer was even more pleased, he liked what he say. Without me having to explain the sculpture to him he had already grasped my intentions in it, the very symbolism behind it and saw the perfect gift for his son in starting off in his own life and then told me as to why he was visiting me.

                                      The coffee was out and we did the business. 'Dante' came home to find he was on the move again and I have not seen 'him' since but I am certain he has given much with the story-behind-the-sculpture told more often than I have made a 'Dante' ... which is only once, but maybe in the near future I might try a ''Dante' with a different twist, now I am thinking and if I was to write a book on my 'Dante', the title would be ....

                            '' Dante  Lost and Found  in Italy.''                    


A last word;

After making some enquirers as to what had happened to my 'Dante' I was only told that it was 'located' in the basement of the museum were the exhibition was held  ...   ''o.k.''


                               Visit the Video  ...
''Dante at the Gates of Paradise''

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''Dante at the Gates of Paradise'' by DAF is licensed under a

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