Le dit des trois vifs et trois morts, C3/Gold Leaf, 2014
This ex libris is a small pearl denoting an ingenious approach in the treatment of this classical medieval theme of Death.
Comparing it with the known pictorial representations of the legend of the three living and the three dead in manuscripts and painted in frescoes in Churches in several countries, the Artist interpretation of the theme is refreshing and awesome, seen with the eyes of a contemporary to whom the symbols still have a meaning.
The Artist wisely chose to include in the composition several elements:
- Representation of the Dead not as skeletons, but rather looking «vif»;
The stained glass alluding to the interior of a Cathedral and the horses, as essential figurative elements of the whole composition;
The labyrinth, with its rich symbolism, bearing the owner’s name and the common text of the poem inscribed “Tel je fus comme tu es, et tel que je suis tu seras / Richesse, honneur et pouvoir sont dépourvus de valeur au moment de votre trépas”; and finally,
The rays “linking” the Dead and the Living.
All these contribute to create a very powerful and attaining composition.
The horses’ heads and the faces of the Living (the middle one looking terrified) and the Dead (slightly blurred and with amazing hands pointing to the Living or holding the horse’s neck…) are superb in the vivid expression of the eyes, the Dead looking at the Living urging them to repent.
Elena Hlodec is definitely an heiress of the Renaissance spirit and a great Artist. Indeed, we do not know many contemporary engravers who would venture to tackle such a difficult theme with the spirituality, depth, and feeling, displayed in this print and even less as a theme for a bookplate! Lucky owner!
I am sincerely touched and impressed!
José Vicente de Bragança, 2015