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“Vanitas” is a sub-genre of still life painting in which an artist reflects on the temporal nature of his existence on earth. Though popular several centuries ago, I had the chance to explore this subject with a paint group in New York with which I am involved. I guess the results demonstrate my confusion with the subject.

I took as a cue the fact that a vagrant named Freddy who greeted me every morning on the stoop of my studio building, and whose portrait I had painted a couple of times, died at the same time that I was pondering what to paint. I had my angel of death who would be offering my depiction from beyond.

Next, dolls and gloves are used metaphorically. While the gloves represent a human presence not depicted, dolls embody all of the hopes and dreams and secrets and aspirations of those who cherished them.

Finally, I incorporated the watermelon, an image I had been exploring for some time as a metaphor for man’s attempts to conquer nature. I had not intended to depict it with a ghastly hole that has been variously described by friends as looking anywhere from an open wound to an angry vagina. The truth is that one facet cut from the rind of the fruit ruptured after the watermelon sat decomposing from within during a couple of weeks in my overheated studio. The result was a jet like propulsion of red, viscous watermelon sludge that ended the painting.

"Vanitas" 40" x 42"
Mikel Glass
Oil On Linen
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