Memento Mori

Memento Mori Panograph

Memento Mori Panograph

We all confront the human predicament of knowing we will someday die.  In making this work, I forced myself to confront my fear and terror, with the hope that I could make a place of calm and peace within myself while holding close the knowledge of my own death. In developing the structure to contain this work, I started with the idea of arbitrary choice and putting restraints on that choice.  The first choice was to formulate the attempt to think about death as a binary, a yes/no in order to simplify the vast subject.  This makes it possible to reduce the immense idea into smaller, simpler segments that are not so overwhelming.   Then I began to accumulate questions about the relationship between death, dying and living.   I ask yes/no questions as a means of easing myself into more willingness to contemplate these difficult questions, making a way to bypass the fear, and to relax the instinctive response.

I decided to formulate a grid, based on squares within a life sized panel, and produced a pattern with two variables.  In order to make a dyad, I reduced the primary colors of yellow and blue and red into two.  Red represents no and green, the yellow blue combination, represents yes.   These colors, equal in strength of value and effect, are chosen for their strong, balanced opposition to each other. The pattern has the reds on the left gradually give way to the greens on the right.  The format has simple “no” questions (my answers) on the left evolving to more complex in the centre and simple “yes” questions (my answers) on the right evolving to more complex in the centre.  The paintings at the outsides are flat and have a simple shape and little variation.  As they progress to the centre, more depth, layers, contrast and complexity is added with each panel.

Although the layers of paint partially or wholly obscure the questions embedded in the panels, the knowledge that the words reside in the paint is a meaningful element.  The painting in this series ties the human capacity to abstract to human consciousness and the consequent knowledge of death. This abstract visual structure supports personal interpretation and contemplation.   Printed questions are available for anyone who cares to answer.  There is no right or wrong answer.  Every individual’s response is unique.  And possibly no one would answer the same way twice.


Memento Mori questions