In my country, Mexico, there are a couple of days dedicated to commemorate the dead people, children on November 1st and adults on November 2nd.
The celebrations basically consist in setting an altar at home to receive back our beloved ones that passed away… Back? Yes! It is told our dead people come back to visit us, to check on us, and It is accustomed that we should offer them some food four the journey back.
On the altar to our deaths, we use to put some fresh fruits like apples, sugar canes, jicamas, guavas or other seasonal fruits; a cooked meal like mole or tamales; lot of cempasuchil flowers to decorate the altar, some candles to guide the dead way back home and of course our typical “Pan de Muerto” (Bread of Dead).
Why am I explaining all of this? In the few paintings I have made, I always thought that my art was influence free and that I was painting only what my imagination comes up with, but recently I realized that my most cherished paintings are related to death and life, and this is completely understandable, the biggest commemoration we have is the commemoration to Death.
It is not like we go around with a skeleton mask or suit during this couple of days, just imagine how office would look like (LOL), but it is indeed the days we remember our mortality and embrace it, the rest of the year we live on denial like the rest of the world, but not those couple of days, we accept it and venerated it and accept it as part of a duality: life and death. My last painting is a representation of this duality.
In the past, in the Stone Age, our ancestors used to bury their dead with minor arrangements, we could say it was the bear body and some grave goods like bracelets made of bone or tusks, some ochre dust around and that’s all, the eternity sleep was set up.
What did they accomplish through this? Get into the life cycle. How so? …Well, our bodies, besides being made of stars (like Moby says), they are made of several rich minerals that favor the nature to grow, literally and in the less poetic sense, we are fertilizers, life can be born again from our death bodies, that is when I came up with this painting.
Probably with the current mortuaries customs, like put the bodies into coffins completely isolated from the outside, is not feasible for us to get back into the life cycle as our ancestors used to do, but I like to think that is the way it should be.