Everything jumps at me in the eworld with equal significance. I experimented with context and my appreciative comments on Conor Walton's images of his paintings ended up on my profile rather than his. This is my first social e thing network so it would make sense to me if that is what happened with you.
I pressed you in blue and saw your profile and like me are new to this site. Seattle. Seattle to me is Everret; an old Guiness Book of Records giant building and rolling out the world shakes hands with the world and extended families keep in contact: our icon: The 747. Irony (or is it sarcasm)don't work on first contact and I am not doing it now! After Punk to me the next excitement in popular music was a band before I learnt of the genre. That performance: Smells like.... I come from Gilliingham. Never heard of it ? you shouldn't have. I live in Penzance now, but with less spirit. When I return I am delighted to hear people refer to Gillingham as "That sh*t 'ole". If you can resolve my confusion I shall be informed and 'grounded': if disapointed. Until then I remain Brilliant in everything I touch.
'what is the significance of these empty skulls...' would be a random comment for me graham hill but having also browsed Conor Walton's paintings I can agree with you that his work is brilliant. Skulls often appear in the paintings. I hope you manage to contact him, Graham.
I hear from Graham that you were admiring my paintings (thank you!) and asking the significance of the skulls. The skull is one of the principal objects found in still life and particularly in the 'Vanitas' tradition of still life painting.
Vanitas means literally ‘emptiness’ in Latin; in its broadest sense it expresses the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of vanity. It is often used in conjunction with the quote from Ecclesiastes, Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas in the Latin Bible, which is translated as ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless’ by the New International Version. Originally, vanitas marked an uneasy compromise between the blatant materialism and worldliness of early capitalism and a Christian heritage that identified wealth with evil, with all that would be swept away in the coming apocalypse. Present pleasure was thus set against a morbid anxiety about the future. In an age more convinced than ours of the existence of God, the vanitas still life possibly served only as a reminder not to be deflected by earthly delights from the prospect of a heavenly future.
We are still promised a better future, although these days in more secular terms: scientific advance, economic growth, increased social justice, greater political and artistic freedom – the ideology of ‘progress’. But there is still plenty of room for morbid anxiety about our future (both personal and planetary), and these anxieties are fertile ground for a vanitas painter like myself. Contemporary vanitas inevitably mocks ‘progress’ and exposes the deep vein of cultural pessimism, or perhaps nihilism, that we struggle to articulate through official channels. Today, vanitas tends to express the marginal or critical viewpoint, the view from the edge.
I hope this helps you make sense of the paintings.
Thanks for the friend request, welcome to the (very small) gang.
I'm not sure I can help very much with the official channels but I think that while the official religion of the day is Optimism, it is so shallow, implausible and half-hearted a belief as to be practically indistinguishable from Nihilism in most respects. But anyone who points this out or tries to deal with this as a problem will be denounced as a Pessimist, a Nihilist, an enemy of Progress and Liberal Values. To take my work as an example, I'm routinely dismissed by those in positions of cultural authority as artistically conservative, reactionary, anti-Modernist, which is what perceived enemies of Progress are usually called in the arts. Why?
The story of Modern Art is routinely described as a narrative of progress, development, advance, liberation from the shackles of tradition, etc., etc. One could just as easily narrate a story of decline, cultural bankruptcy, descent into triviality and absurdity, the increasingly naked expression of materialism and nihilism, etc., etc., but this narrative is forbidden. The business of art historians and critics is to tell us how wonderful Modern Art is and anyone pursuing an academic or critical career saying anything else will find they won't get accredited or published, they won't get scholarships, fellowships or tenured positions; in short they won't get heard. This is one example of what I mean by the struggle to express our pessimism through 'official channels'.
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