Gabriel Orozco (b. 1962)
Gabriel Orozco (b. 1962)

Samurai Tree Invariant 4

Gabriel Orozco (b. 1962)
Samurai Tree Invariant 4
signed, titled and dated 'SAMURAI TREE INVARIANT 4 GABRIEL OROZCO 2005' (on the reverse); signed 'GABRIEL OROZCO' (on a paper label affixed to the stretcher)
acrylic on canvas
47 3/8 x 47 3/8 in. (120.3 x 120.3 cm.)
Painted in 2005
Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007.
Venice, LI Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte, 2005.

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Lot Essay

Exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2005, Samurai Tree Invariant 4 marks Gabriel Orozco's celebrated return to painting. One of the first works by the artist to be carried out in paint since 1980, it is realised in a rich palette of red, gold, blue and white evocative of a Byzantine icon. Radiating from a single centre point, the canvas proliferates with a pattern of circles and quadrants that the artist equates to the organic growth of trees as they are seen from above. 'I love the idea of how trees grow from a center' Orozco once explained, 'how they also grow underground and on the ground from a center and a horizon and they start to develop all the branches. A tree is a metaphor for me' (G. Orozco quoted in Y. A. Bois, The Tree and the Knight, Gabriel Orozco, exh. cat., Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 2006, p. 269).

Around the centre point of the painting Orozco has drawn a circle, which he then divides into quadrants. Another circle graces the first, each bisected by a single dividing line. Repeating this process systematically and varying the size of each circle, Orozco finishes his canvas by filling its quadrants and halves with a combination of his four-colour palette. Each shape is filled based upon a knight's moves across a chessboard - one forward, and two to the side or two squares forward and one to the side until the whole canvas is completed. In 2005, Orozco digitally generated all of the colour permutations possible in The Samurai's Tree composition. Whilst the formal composition of the work remained the same, the visual appearance changed dramatically according to each of the 672 colour arrangements. Samurai Tree Invariant 4 represents one of the few of these computer based projections to be depicted in paint on canvas.

With its calculated arrangement of forms and refined execution, Samurai Tree Invariant 4 appears reminiscent of the geometric abstraction undertaken by Piet Mondrian or Ellsworth Kelly. Yet Orozco emphasises a fundamental difference. Unlike those painters before him, he is 'trying to deal with the rotation of a body inside a flat plane. Not in the illusion of the body, but in the conceptual representation of an image. It is an abstraction, but not one that claims to be just a material phenomenon, but to be dealing with something else at the same time. Three-dimensionality, gravity, movement, light, symmetry, the organic and so on - that is, all the same issues I am dealing with in sculpture and photography. So it is very different from abstract painting or minimalism. It is not about visuality' (G. Orozco interview with B. Fer, Gabriel Orozco, exh. cat., Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 2006, p. 109). Certainly, Samurai Tree Invariant 4 bears important continuities with the artist's early work. The spherical motif recalls those rotating forms depicted on currency and airline tickets, drawings which Orozco began in 1995 such as Light Signs (Korea) made for the Kwangju Biennale and Atomists (1996).

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