For this task I had wanted to look into Art from the 16th to 17th century. I have always loved paintings from around that era because I like researching into the painting and learning the meaning behind what is on the canvas. I started to look at paintings like the Ambassador by Holbein, I knew that the painting had hidden symbols, and meanings like the hidden Crucifix, was a symbol for the divide of the church. The globe suggesting the exploring the world for new land, the main reason I starting to look at this painting was because it is well known for the anamorphic image of a skull in the foreground. It is said the skull was painted to remind us that death is always presents, even if you are in a higher class. I look at other Early Netherlandish paintings like ‘The Descent from the cross’, which is a more religious painting of Christ being taken down from the cross. There are many painting similar from the Renaissance era.
As I was researching into the meanings of skulls in paintings, I came cross a painting called Vanitas, By Pieter Claesz. This painting is one of many ‘Vanitas’ paintings which all have the same messages of the skull being the main focal point and the hourglass, suggesting it is reminding us that in time ‘vanity’ is uncovered by death and it’s a matter of time.
Death is something that is inevitable, it will come one day so why have reminders and be scared of it. So I started to look in to the Mexican traditional celebration; ‘Day of the Dead’ which is being show cased more through the years, in music videos, movies. But what is it really? Past the flowered cover skulls. First the name of the holiday is ‘Dia de los Muertos’ and it is celebrate to honour their deceased loved ones, which is full of love, joy and remembrance. It is also believe that it allows the dead to live again. During the time is it said the deceased return to their earthly home to visit their loved ones.
Most people celebrate out of fear, as there are many folk tales of what happens when someone neglects their ancestors. For example if the spirit returns to fine no one has built an altar for him or her, they will feel sad and angry. Which may lead to the sprit to seek vengeance. And the people that ignored their deceases loved ones fall immediately ill and even meet their death shortly after.
It is celebrated by setting up an altar with offerings cleaning and decorating graves, holding all-night graveside vigils, telling stories and making or buying and exchanging sugar skulls. As well as street parties and parades.
I found this celebration interesting and I love the idea of remembering your loved one and celebrating them because death is a part of life and as we celebrate life why not death. So for my recreation I wanted to play with the paintings of Vanitas by Pieter Claesz and Jan van Kessel, and incorporating the festival of Dia de los Muertos. Using the method of using symbols to create meaning. But I want to change the way we see death, being something to be scared of, which is where day the dead will come on. Symbolising the celebration and joy of death. That it will come but we will have people that will remember you and love you. Making the image brighter as the paintings of Vanitas are dark, with a gothic feel to it.