Unlike other still life paintings, Dutch 17th and 18th Century still life paintings differentiate themselves by the message of mortality. The apparent similarity lays at the common subject matters that often appear in any still life paintings such as fruits and flowers which embody for the beauty and delicacy of the privileged class. However, the main difference is that instead of focusing on the material value of the beauty image of those objects, Dutch still life paintings show the nature of things being decay and fade throughout time. In the Rachel Ruysch painting Fruit and Insects, among the seemingly luxurious and delightful image of colorful peaches and grapes, we see the leaves are dying and the insects are eating the fruits. The decay of those organic matters speaks to the core of nature and materialism: In the shortness of life, all of the desire of beauty and material things are vanity.
In the series Hegemony or Survival of Hector Rene Membreno-Canales, his use of Dutch still life painting approach along with rather opposite other subjects is meant to reveal the irony of how humanity or to be exact, a group of people with power, is destroying other people’s life and the world for meaningless motives. In the blindness of power and the desire of domination, people are drawn themselves into the devastating and brutal conflicts and forget about the nature of life and the rather important needs of their situations and their countries’ destiny.