Gauguin was a master of colour, but in his later paintings, he moved into bigger questions: the meaning of human existence. He abstracted his picture planes to large colour fields with archetypical gesture.
My interest in memento mori is in the same spirit. What's it all about? Surely more than just astro-physics, big bangs and Higgs bosuns.
In constructing a studio still life, one has unlimited choice. The photographer is on his or her own. You choose the content, the lighting, the angle of view, the depth of field.
I was thinking about the symbolism of the top photo. It is a triangle which is graphically stable. For Christians, the triangle is the Trinity. The cherries for me are the promise of creation, bounty, fertility; the spilled cherries are the loss of innocence. For the Japanese, cherries are beauty, immortality.
The lily symbolizes the hope of rebirth, but as a flower, they are fleeting, intense, beautiful and finite.
The mangoes feed and nurture but at their most beautiful, they are near the end: a kind of Keatsian burst of flavour and glory.
But for all that, we do create. We do hope. Life does go on and we think that is a good thing. We are human and we endure and engage with optimism and hope.
When we try to unbundle the power of an image, perhaps symbolism plays a major role: but I don't really know for sure. It is a non-verbal pursuit in the end.