This painting is about the cycle of life.
One day, some Colombian indians took me to a primary forest of mahogany on the top of a mountain. Those trees rose several hundred feet into the air, like Greek columns, before branching out into a canopy. Eventually, we came to a clearing where an old tree had crumpled to the ground. As it decayed, it nourished new saplings.
Twelve adjoining panels that form a circular painting.
I based the dimensions of this circle on the "Hunting Lodge" at Avesbury. It is likely that such places were once surrounded by trees. The ancient stone columns would have created windows looking into the forest.
As I made this painting, I was thinking about how trees may have had a spiritual significance to those early people. I exhibited this piece at the Richard Salmon Gallery in London in 1998. During that exhibition, an ancient circle of upturned oak trees was exposed on the coast of England.
This particular forest in Colombia is very close to an ancient stone circle. There are also many tombs, guarded by stone statues of indian warriors. Humans once lived in this forest, and it now survives as a national park. The art that they left behind has helped to protect and preserve this small forest.
This is the first of the five large landscape installations that I created in Colombia.
12 paintings join together to create a 360 degree square panorama. The paintings surround the viewer on all four sides.
Each painting in this series contains a pathway leading to a different place.
I made this painting when we had just moved to Colombia, and my wife was pregnant with our first child.
The paintings surround the viewer just as the womb surrounds a baby.
In life, we constantly encounter different paths.
This is a path into the forest. On the other side of the installation is the path into the home. Those were my choices at that time in my life: to live in the country where I had grown up or to venture further into the forest. I chose the path into the forest because I wanted to do whatever I could to save it.
This painting is currently on exhibit at ESMOA which is a very cool new museum in Los Angeles.
It describes a rounded mountain where indian tribes once lived and where they left painted statues. Beyond it, to the left, is the volcano Puracé. That is the active volcano which has an exotic plateau just below the crater which I described in my vast landscape painting, "Source of the Amazon."
My friend, David Hockney once said to me, "What could be more spiritual than abstraction?"
"Trees," I replied.
A few days later he came to see my exhibition at Bergamot Station.