The drawings in this book were prompted by the final lines of the last canto of Dante’s Divine Comedy. These words describe the vision that Dante experiences at end of his journey through hell, purgatory and paradise. They tell of his witnessing the creative power at the heart of creation. In this he sees a great circling of reflected spheres and rainbows and, somehow, the human image within it all.
Could a vision like this be made visible with a pen and some paper? Starting with simple circling marks on a blank page Kennard began to see what would appear if he worked without plan or previous sketches, reacting to and developing the marks as they appeared.
The result is an extraordinary sequence of images, some highly disturbing, some tinged with humour and affection. These have been paired with quotations from Dante’s text, sometimes making distinct resonances, at other times creating discords.
The structure of the book echoes Dante’s in that it contains one hundred images (the number of cantos in the Divine Comedy) and is divided into three parts (as in hell, purgatory and paradise). It does not illustrate the original text in any direct way but sets up a parallel visual and emotional experience of a powerful and utterly unique kind.
For I therein, methought, in its own hue Beheld our image painted: steadfastly I therefore por’d upon the view.
The book is available to buy at £18 (plus £3 postage and packing)