Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Still Death Life

A painting of four skulls. One is in the background, the other three are staring out of the canvas.I have a love-loathe relationship with the work of Cezanne. His use of colour and his careful placing of paint make his best works full of vitality and interest. His use of the picture plane like a modern Fourth Wall makes his interiors clumsy, and his portraits commit what is to me a great sin; they do not look much like people.

Instead, they look like representations of people, a bit like a map looks like a landscape. Cezanne does good maps of people, I am sure. However, I don’t much like to look at them. What I do like to look at is often landscape, and sometimes still life. Around Halloween I was looking for pictures of skulls. I produced a memento mori in charcoal, based on the Nigerian story of the talking skulls, and how a huntsman finds understanding. The smudges on the surface are the plastic cover. The black background is very very dark, made up of crossed layers of charcoal.

Two charcoal skulls, one missing the mandible, stare at a candle between them.The image is called ‘Talking brought me here’. In talking about an experience, the hunter Kagwa fails to take the advice that was contained within it; be silent.

Instead, he goes to the King and says he has seen a wonder, and the King sends guards to be certain Kagwa is speaking the truth. Naturally, when he begs the skull to talk, it is silent. For that, he is killed.

Then the skull opened its mouth,
“Huntsman, how did you come here?”
and the dead man answered,
‘Talking brought me here”

Oil skulls c.20″x16″, £250 framed, Charcoal c. 36″x26″ £190