Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Big Dante Party

A picture in the Straits Times last Saturday caught my eye and I went on to find out more.

It was about a party involving 103 cultural icons. Nope! It is not any kind of party you might have in mind. Rather, it is about a painting by three little-known Chinese artists.

The 2006 art piece depicts a dinner party with 103 'party guests' such as Beethovan, Elvis and Bruce Lee. Most of these 'guests' are already dead and some are very old such as the 2500 years old Confucius (below).

The 'party' also invites people during our lifetime such as Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, who are still around and those who have just recently left us such as Saddam Hussein, who was hanged in Dec 2006.

The 6m by 2.6m painting also includes world landmarks like the Great Wall of China, the Egyptian pyramids, and Stonehenge (below).

It definitely does not look like the usual cocktail party with the 'who's who' coming together to close business deals and boasting personal achievement. With the title "Discussing The Divine Comedy With Dante", I would imagine the party to be mostly serious and solemn.

"Divine Comedy" is an epic religious poem written by Dante Alighieri in the early 14th Century. It is often considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. It is composed over 14,000 lines, telling Christian afterlife during the medieval times.

The artwork was release on the Internet anonymously without fanfare in 2006. As many of the figures in the painting were Chinese (some are shown above), some people guessed the painter may be Chinese.

In fact there was clue to that question right from the start as the artists Dai Dudu, Li Tiezi, and Zhang An are also depicted in the painting (below). They are found at the top right hand corner and appear to be surveying the party with Dante standing nearby.

The painting became an Internet hit early this year as people rushing to identify the 103 'guests' in the party. I tried to do the same too and I must say that I did not do very well.

Initially, I thought the idea was kitschy when I saw a potpourri of politicians, celebrities, businessmen, sportsmen and even Dolly the cloned sheep in the painting. I was not sure what the painter was trying to tell and I gave up trying to comprehend. I just turned it into some kind of "Where's Wally" juvenile activity and had some fun out of it.

The painting and the answers can be found in a news
article by the UK Daily Mail. However, if you have a tiny 12.1" screen like mine, don't kill yourself squinting your eyes at the tiny image. Try a bigger picture and spot the figures known to you. You can try clicking on a figure and it will get you the a wiki link. Very nice.

Why don't you give it a try and let me know how you fare?

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