Lighting candles, a ritual in many religious traditions, is an act of prayer, a moment of intention. A deliberate, conscious gesture of placing flame to wick slows time, forces reflection, and engenders stillness inside one's heart, bringing the noise and chaos of the external world to a halt. Candles can symbolize a vigil, a lamentation, a request, gratitude, celebration, or simple union with other believers. In Memorial II (cover), votives float on the surface of the painting and appear to lift themselves into the void from an indistinct blend of stylized sea and sky. The wraiths of crematory urns suspended in the miasma underscore the funereal theme; an eerie 3-dimensional effect startles and encourages close examination. Ross Bleckner (1949- ) executed a series of paintings in the 1980s and 1990s, emphasizing his deep concern for and dedication to those individuals who had contracted—and died of—infection with the human immunodeficiency virus and from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Memorial II belongs to that set of works; it is a perfect example of how Bleckner's passion brings forth his style.
Torpy JM. Memorial II. JAMA. 2012;308(24):2546. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3404