"Why Are We Here?"

20" x 20", oil on canvas, 2014

This one's from the "Remembrance" section of my World War One painting project, To the Sound of Trumpets. At first glance, appears to be a little on the sentimental side, something I promised not to do with these paintings, but I think the title of the piece and the lyrics scrawled on the helmet keep it from getting too weepy.

Parts of trench songs are quoted in or will be accompanying several paintings in this project, but those lines on the helmet are the entirety of the song, expressing the nihilistic futility (or, at least, the bewildering existentialism) many soldiers felt during the war. Trench songs were shared at base camps, while marching, and on the front lines, serving to bond the soldiers and to help alleviate their stress and their fears.

Click here to read some of the more well-known trench songs of WWI, and click here to hear some.


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