Mihai Mihu completed a series of creations depicting the 9 circles of Hell. While staying true to the theme of poetic justice served to the sinners, Mihai portrays the punishments through his own interpretations. The recurring architectural elements and portrayal of the sinners tie the scenes together in a way that’s easy for the viewer to transition through. In this short interview, the builder talks about his project and the individual circles of Hell.
TBB: Tell us about your 9 circles of Hell project.
Mihai Mihu: It all started last year with a contest on MOCpages (The 2011 MOC Olympics) where I was challenged to build a MOC in just two colors. I decided to approach an architecture theme for the entry as it was in my comfort zone. While building and the things progressed, the lack of colors made the MOC look lifeless. It was then when I had the idea to transform it into an underworld scene and I named it Limbo.
After the many positive comments that I received, I thought and then decided that it would be great to continue this MOC as an artistic series and I saw a great opportunity to display my skills and my love for design and architecture.
The whole project took me 7 months to complete, with about 2 to 3 weeks for the development of the ideas, design and building of each circle.
TBB: What is your approach to depicting each circle?
MM: The concept of the 9 circles is the work of maybe the first true master of fiction Dante Alighieri. It’s such an interesting idea, and I’ve been meaning to make a re-imagining of the hell depicted by him.
I didn’t read the Divine Comedy, only the small descriptions of the circles I found on Wikipedia and on other websites. I didn’t want to be much influenced by the original descriptions because I wanted to give a whole new fresh approach for each circle. I thought more about the significance of titles and from then on it was only my imagination.
TBB: Tell us about each of the creations.
A place of monotony, here the souls are punished to wander in restless existence while they moan helplessly in echoes between the ruins of a temple.
Surrounded by erotic representations, those overcome by lust are forced to watch and experience disgusting things, ultimately being condemned to drown in the menstrual river.
This pompous place is reserved for the punishment of the greedy ones. The hands of the damned are popping out of the walls and are trying to grab the riches around them or to drag the new arrivals in and feed on their lust for wealth.
In this depressing place the souls are trapped in the swamp, they can’t move and they cannot manifest their frustration which is making them even more angry. Here I wanted to approach a theme more about feelings and emotions. The weeping statue represents those who turned their sadness into anger.
The giant demon watches closely over his fire pit, dwarfing the damned that are dragging the new arrivals in the boiling lava. Those who committed the greatest sins against God are getting a special treatment inside the temple where they are doomed to burn for eternity in the scorching flames.
A place of intense torture where the horrific screams of the damned are eternally accompanied by the hellish beats of drums. There are lots of elements here to convey violence like the suicide statues on top of the ruined citadel, the hanged souls or the river of blood.
In Fraud the Demons enjoy altering the shape of souls, this is how they feed. In this process, the soul manifests its true fraudulent nature and reveals the cheats and tricks that it has committed in life. This is also the place of the cries and lament of a chained Titan who betrayed Zeus.
Lucifer lies here chained by the Angelic Seal which keeps him captive in the frozen environment. All the souls who are cast in Treachery are first processed by the flying demons at the temple where the Judas coins are.
TBB: Which build is your favorite and which circle would you least want to be in?
MM: My favorite build is Greed, because it has a really special feel to it. I like its majestic look and the powerful emotional contrast it expresses. It’s beautiful but sinister at the same time.
Gluttony is the circle I would least want to be in. It’s always freaked me out, it’s disgusting, chaotic and vital, definitely not a place to get stuck.