The theme of Vanitas has been a favorite topic of artists since the 17th century. As Wikipedia notes, Vanitas is about] the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death, often contrasting symbols of wealth and symbols of ephemerality and death.
In 2002, a few years after I moved to England, my friend Robert Campbell Henderson, artist, provacateur, gallerist, offered me the opportunity to show my work in his Gables Yard gallery. Gables Yard was an immaculately appointed gallery in Norfolk in the eastern part of England known as East Anglia, and I was pleased to have such a fine setting for the work. That same year, I showed excerpts from the original Vanitas in the exhibition Days of the Dead at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, in Norwich.
Years passed, as they are wont to do, I returned to the US, my native country in 2004, and in preparation for this website I thought it might be interesting to give the theme another try. The result in 2017 is an entirely different series. Vanitas now incorporates quotes from various literary figures, and not a single image has survived from the earlier version, examples of which can be seen above in a 2002 flyer from the Gables Yard gallery.
One of the pleasures of a long life is the ability to re-acquaint oneself with earlier work. It’s a process of finding the person I was when first this series first emerged. More often than not that person seems to be a stranger.
Perhaps it is because I have passed from late middle age to even later old age and although it may be an illusion, I fancy I am a somewhat different person now then I was then. So once again I found myself refining my thoughts on that melancholy theme, which of course, the older you get the more relevant it becomes.