Kathleen Speranza’s florals celebrate life – vita – as much as they evoke 17th century Dutch still life painting known as vanitas. Originally, vanitas still lifes were designed to remind the viewer of the brevity and fragility of life. The term “vanitas” comes from the opening lines of the Book of Ecclesiastes – ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’
Early vanitas still lifes encompassed various symbolic objects including floral arrangements to remind the viewer explicitly of the vanity and impermanence of worldly pleasures and goods. Rather than stillness, Speranza’s meticulous virtuosity examines hidden spaces – the sculptural qualities of flowers – and infuses a classical genre and an ancient practice in painting with contemporary import and vitality. Her paintings and drawings explore the mysteries, intensities, and concentrations of color, space, and form – as they are revealed by light – in intimate observations of nature and subject approaching portraiture. The exhibition is organized by the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.
Kathleen Speranza: Vanitas Vita is made possible through the generous support of Richard and Barbara O’Leary.