1988 – oil on canvas, 300×300 cm
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving” Albert Einstein
All Vanitas paintings contain a skull as the symbol of the inevitability of death and the transience and vanity of earthly achievements and pleasures; it exhorts the viewer to consider mortality and to repent, the perfect motive to remind us about our conscience.
Like the Cloak, which appeared first in my paining “To be or not to be”, and only later as a sculpture, I show in this painting a couple on a bicycle, which I developed later into my famous “Sisyphus” sculpture. As Einstein said it so well in the citation above, – as long as we are active, still curious about new things and use our creativity we are alive, to use his words “if we can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, we are as good as dead”.
Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others are investing billions to find the formula for eternal life. Imagine the horror if they succeeded: the dance on my painting would go on forever, an incredible boredom, we would suffocate under the accumulated material goods, Jesus would have sacrificed himself, unable to save us, and ethics and morals would disappear, because no conscience would be needed anymore.
Confucius says, “ The moral life of man can be compared to a long journey, or as well to an ascent”. Imagine if this journey, this ascent had no end; our life would not have any sense.
As I wrote in the comments to my “Tree of Life” drawings and sculptures, it is the uphill path through which the created returns to its ultimate destination, the unity with the Creator.
The couple on my painting will continue its efforts as long as it makes sense. Would they have to pedal forever it would become the torment of Sisyphus.