The Dutch painting of 17th and 18th Century is a type of still life painting that consists of inanimate objects which conveys a meaningful message.  This type of painting creates a metaphor for mortality as the artist uses collection of symbolic objects to convey a biblical or christian message that can translate to death, wealth, and life.  For example, in Rachel Ruysch Painting Fruit and Insects, she did not just captured a natural scene but also studied them in great detail, both the fruits and insects which she combined together to form  a beautiful composition. In her painting, she symbolizes the wheat and the grapes to eucharist. And relates to her father’s work by placing lived insects and animals in her composition.

Hector Rene Membreno-Canales uses the Dutch still life painting technique because he wanted this type of style to convey his experience in the military. I think his work is effective since by placing military objects, food, and a veteran in his photo, he creates a personal feeling, and indicates that war is about survival and hardship. Since he symbolizes the food as his hardship, both the weapons, and the veteran can signify that will fight through his harship in order to live.

1 thought on “Vanitas

  1. rmichals

    You have a clear grasp of the Dutch still life paintings. They certainly use everyday objects, foods and flowers in particular, to create a metaphor for mortality. I agree that Membreno-Canales is able to create a metaphor for his experience in Iraq by disrupting our expectations of a certain genre of art. His juxtapositions are jarring like I imagine his experience had to have been.


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