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In the XV and XVI centuries, Dutch and Flemish painters created a symbolic hyperrealist painting genre known as Vanitas. Inspired by the opening lines of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible: ‘Vanity of vanities, said the Preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity’, those paintings depict still-lives, luxury objects, skulls and flowers aiming to raise awareness of the shortness and fragility of life and the vanity (in the sense of worthlessness) of worldly pleasures and ambitions. The ambivalent presence of these paintings – the moral approach is shadowed by the skillfully painted compositions, as if the artists could overcome death by giving permanence to the ephemeral – recall painting’s primordial role as recording-devices of a certain time and luxury-goods that last centuries. The polished and seductive atmosphere of these images reminds us of our own bodies’ finitude while offering sparkling promises of a lustful existence.


  • Mendes Wood DM | Brussels's Exhibitions 16
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