For the last decade, the work of Toronto artist Howard Podeswa has examined artistic legacies by re-imagining historic paintings that have influenced his practice, such as Goya’s Black Paintings and Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Over the past couple of years, as both world and personal events seemed to veer steeply towards the tragic, Podeswa felt compelled to tackle one of the most complex subjects of art history – human mortality. His poignant new painting series mine the sub-terrains of fear, loss and disaster, becoming a journey through somber allegorical visions of hell and the end of times, leading eventually to a luminous, hopeful break of the vicious circle. The striking large-scale canvases reference iconic works by Peter Breugel the Elder and Francisco Goya’s Cupola of San Antonio de la Florida and A Procession of Flagellants. At the same time, they quote news images of natural cataclysms such as hurricane Sandy as well as social upheavals that signal the collapse of old global orders. Structured in three parts echoing the sections of Dante’s Divine Comedy – Hell, Purgatory and Paradise – the series ultimately turns towards scientific ideas of the universe for the dissolution of darkness.