First published: Fall 2017
John Maizels: What inspired you to embark on an interpretation of Milton’s epic, visionary poem, Paradise Lost?
Daniel Martin Diaz: I became interested in John Milton after finding out he was hugely important to the Romantic poets, for his political stance as well as the model of his writing. After studying William Blake and his contemporaries, and regarding their unease about the future, I was led to John Milton and Paradise Lost.
JM: There have been famous artists in the past who have interpreted Paradise Lost in their own ways, including Blake, John Martin and Gustav Doré, but these artists all presented literal figurative depictions of the dramatic events. How do you see your own interpretation differs from these?
DMD: My interpretation is based on the anxieties and beliefs of our modern world. The uncertainty of technology, morality and social norms. Blake, Martin, and Doré had literal interpretations of Paradise Lost. My work is a philosophical and metaphorical inquiry into our understanding of our current world. Milton gives us a template to contemplate and to view society through a zoomed out prism... view the world from a further perspective, rather than getting caught up in the minutiae, and seeing the big forces at work. As humans, we tend to see things from our own personal views and try to make sense of them. Reading Paradise Lost and studying Milton’s life gave me an overall tone, and clearer understanding of my beliefs and non-beliefs. I believe Milton, on a deep level, has given people after him the bravery to question social norms and authority. To not accept things that may seem true and to dig deeper for what really is true. It made me ask questions, such as does evil really exist? What are beliefs? Will science ever deliver 100% truth as long as humans are involved? Do the elites really have our own best interest? And so on. He has also given us the courage to stand up against injustice and what we believe in our hearts.
This Darkness Light, graphite and crimson pencil on paper, 2016, 21 x 34 ins. / 53.3 x 86.4 cm
JM: Are there any specific messages that you have gained from the experience of immersing yourself in this series?
DMD: Yes! My belief system was transformed. My belief in social norms and the rules that keep the fabric of society together. My understanding that the primal man/beast that lies deep in all of us is kept at bay, with the rules society puts on us. The main lesson for me is to break away from the herd and ask questions that go against old fashioned rules.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #95