The Eternal Flowers of Vanity

The word “vanity” in its original meaning with respect to its Latin origin denominated the expiration and lack of substance of the things of this world.

In art, especially in Painting, it refers to a type of still life (skulls, candles, clocks, withered flowers and other symbolic entities of death) that thematize the ephemeral nature and transience of all human activity.

In my childhood memories, cemeteries were strange places where even a very young child could experience, see and even smell the expiration of all life: withered flowers lay on the graves, hung from the niches or scattered along the sandy paths.

Thousands of sparrows in grayish clouds, multicolored flies and wasps of terrifying size, landed on withered and trampled remains, looking for something to eat or simply to drink the scarce water from some puddle.

On my recent visit to the main cemetery in Huelva, I was saddened to see that this is no longer the case: the flowers are all made of plastic. Some branches are embedded in the same niche.

They don’t smell; after 30 or 40 years they are only a little faded. Deprived of their transience, they adorn the deceased long after their disappearance and oblivion, and perhaps even their successors in that last bed.

No sign of the birds; neither of the multicolored flies nor even of the terrifying wasps.

Its Art! Take your time!