This painting was inspired by the Tarot 13 Death Card, a card that can evoke terror in those who may draw it, but which has a much more optimistic meaning. The Death Card lets us know that we are due for a change, the “death” in question meaning the end of something we are done with, or maybe something that is done with us. A relationship? Job? Living situation? Or even just a state of mind. Death in this case doesn’t mean an ending. Instead, it is the beginning of something new.
The semi-botanical skeleton in this painting is sprouting branches and flowers. The skull is modeled after an Aquilegia (Columbine), a flower that grows in shade. Underneath the plant’s roots is a chrysalis awaiting its own rise and transformation into something beautiful.
The eye that hovers over the skull represents a higher spirit rising above the material world, an alchemical idea about changing base elements into gold.
The phrase on the banner, Vitam Mortem, is Latin for “Life out of Death” or “Life from Death.”
The title is a double negative. Death, whether literal or figurative, is an absence of being, an empty hole in the lives of everyone who experiences it. The disappearance of this empty space marks the arrival of something new.
Post Script: There is a funny story about this painting. I was in my studio 9downtown Los Angeles, at that time, in the Santa Fe Art Colony) and getting a few paintings ready for a gallery show. The paint was still wet on this one, but it was a very hot day. I put it outside on the roof of my car so the sun would help the paint cure faster. HOWEVAH, when it was time to go home I forgot it was there and drove away. A few blocks passed before I suddenly remembered, stopped the car and jumped out. No painting. I circled back in time to see a truck drive right over the painting in the middle of the road. I ran over to get it but had to stop because ANOTHER truck ran over it.
The painting was smashed to bits, so I took the remains into my studio and started prepping a new board. In a few days I had reproduced the painting, and, seeing some areas that needed improving, I reworked those. The resulting painting is, imho, much better than the first. So, “Vitam Mortem” is the very real story of the history of this painting.
The Disappearance of Absence is 18″ x 24″ oil on cradled wood, available in my studio.
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