Il compito degli uomini di cultura è più che mai oggi quello di seminare dei dubbi, non già di raccogliere certezze, Norberto Bobbio

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The artist Zhou Tao and the Divine Comedy

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Dante’s Divine Comedy is beyond doubt the most important icon of the Italian literature.
Its importance in the history of world culture is comparable to that of Mona Lisa for the arts, or The Four Seasons for the music.
This wonderful poem has been the source of inspiration for many artists of the world in the past eight centuries.
Salvador Dali and Gustave Doré, are just two examples of famous painters who have created wonderful work of art from the Divine Comedy; but I would rather say that in the mind of every Italian there is a visual reconstruction of the adventures of Dante. The imagination runs around the vivid description of Paolo and Francesca’s love, the anguish of Count Ugolino and the ecstatic description of the Heaven.
I have met the artist Zhou Tao right at the beginning of my mission in Shanghai two years ago. He is an enthusiastic admirer of the Italian culture in general and of its best manifestation such as the Divine Comedy.
His adaptation of Dante’s masterpiece is very interesting. Through his pictorial work, he is transforming Italian’s ideas into a more general context, as we would say in Latin language “sub specie aeternitatis”, which means “Belonging to Eternity.”
The adventures of Dante in the Italy of the 14th century are the symbol of the continuous struggle of man in the world. This struggle between reason and emotions, between ethos and necessity, between belief and disillusion, is present in every country and in every era, and it is proper to the existence of human beings.
Zhou Tao expresses through his vivid paintings the dilemma of belonging to a situation in which the necessity to adapt to the economic progress is counter-balanced with the aim to respect an old tradition and cultural and ethic values.
Being an Italian, I feel proud that Dante’s Divine Comedy still today attracts people of different cultures and transmits an idea of love and fraternity.
I wish to Zhou Tao a great success in this endeavor which truly promotes Italian culture in China.
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