‘After the Gathering’ is a vivid joyous work, a humorous enlargement of a colourful birthday cake. But, as we can tell from the cake itself, it was baked yesterday. The candles have been blown out and are leaning every which way. Some of the cake has already been eaten. What remains is already starting to sag a bit. So although at first glance this is a festive work, it’s obviously a vanitas piece or memento mori as well.
It’s a strange custom, this celebration of our own mortality by way of the birthday ritual. An enlarged day-after-the-birthday cake not only references that celebration but also the sobering emptiness that follows it.