The theme of my show, “Childʼs Play,” is a subtle handling of memento mori. Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as, “Remember your mortality.” It refers to a genre of artworks that vary widely, but share the same purpose–to remind us of our mortal limits. In the series, I am conveying this concept through childrenʼs block images. The block depictions all have the signifier of youth that the image carries, yet show the passage of time through the manipulation of their surface treatment. The ephemeral concept of memory may also come into play for some viewers.
The 16 watercolors are presented in a series called “Foursquare,” with the goal of creating a unified, cohesive body of work. The images are somewhat flat in appearance. There is not an attempt to express great dimensionality. The letterforms are sometimes rotated or missing all together in these deconstructed word pictures. The viewer may also perceive the paintings as recognizable symbols with the added implications of language. My intention was to use the block images as explorations in color and composition and to employ the memento mori idea as a unifying concept.
The 10-12 oil paintings each contain an image and a word signifier. Iʼm exploring the connections of words and pictures. Quoting from an article by W. J. T. Mitchell, “We might call this division the relations between the seeable and the sayable, display and discourse, showing and telling.” It also relates to our youth when vocabulary was forming and through these simple toy devices a foundation was laid for communication.
- John Lembi