Aec Interesni Kazki, Memento Mori in Topiary Garden, 2020

The artist states that his paintings come straight from his subconscious and that we are free to interpret them as we wish, so let’s do that. We are given a scene of sculptures in a highly-mannered topiary garden in wine country (Tuscany? Southern France?). The sculpted figure on the left has hands for feet and feet for hands. He holds up a horn; perhaps he represents Music and the Arts. The middle statue is in the figure of a woman with a spiral shell for a head and she is holding the skull of a primate. We may presume that she represents biology and evolution. The third statue has heads for hands that point in different directions and appear to be observing the scene. The head of the statue is an anamorphic image, that is, an optical illusion that when seen from a specific viewpoint looks perfectly normal (Hans Holbein’s famous painting The Ambassadors has an anamorphic memento mori in it). The statue makes a great stride on tentacled feet that appear to be groping and looking around. We could say that this figure represents humanity’s thirst for knowledge and scientific discoveries.

Other notable symbols include the two clam shells; the small one is closed (a closed mind?) while the other is open and filled with water that reflects the topiary. A niche in the topiary contains what appears to be an ancient Egyptian wine cask. A jet plane in the left corner flies away from this land. This all seems to be a timeline of evolution and a testament to human endeavor, from the fossils to the manipulation of the natural world (topiary) to modern technological advances like jet planes. The title suggests that this is a memento mori, that is, a reminder of death, so that we may go out and seize the day. We must make the most of our short time here on earth.

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