Generations of Fathers

Generations of Fathers, a painting by Jacinto Rivera

Generations of Fathers
Oil on canvas
45 3/4″ X 53 1/2″

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The original idea that I had of this painting was to be a critique of ‘The Day of the Dead’ tradition. I always thought that a celebration was counter to mourning the passing of our ancestors. My father had died suddenly when I was young, and at that time I was just beginning to learn about God and the afterlife in religious catechism classes. So, when I went to his funeral and viewed his body, I became acutely aware that his spirit was no longer present—his body was as an empty shell. In that moment, within this experience, I had a very profound realization and revelation of a Truth that was, up until that time, only head knowledge or theory, in what was being taught in my religion classes.‘The Day of the Dead’ celebrations did not make sense to me. The passing of our loved ones is a sad affair and a celebration of this event seemed unrealistic to me, in knowing that they are no longer with us. The painting did not start out as an autobiographical piece but, once I had made that decision, it added to the meaning of what I was doing. I thought about the death of my father, my maternal grandfather, my paternal grandfather and what only seems to follow in the coming of my own demise. Although imperfect, each of us embraced fatherhood and all that entailed in providing for our families. Working on this painting had a cathartic effect for me, as I contemplated my experiences with my father and maternal grandfather and recalling the one story of my paternal grandfather, as told by my mother. My life experience, though not the same in time culturally or sociologically as theirs, does not differ at all where human nature is concerned. Our paternal bond to our children, our self-actualization, and our response to the ever-changing world around us are challenges that each generation faces. As for myself, in surrendering any regrets or failures that I might have—to GOD, I can only Hope, that after I die, others too will forgive me as well and regularly commit my Soul to God in Prayer.The picture shows me in a coffin underground, being taken away to an unknown place by dark entities, all the while a celebration of my life takes place in the world above. The message painted in blood on my coffin states: “I was hoping for prayers, but I received a celebration instead”.