Realised in a striking palette of crimson red, gleaming gold, brilliant white and royal blue, Samurai Tree (Invariant Red 3) merges technological precision with organic growth to hypnotic effect. Part of Gabriel Orozco's celebrated Samurai Tree paintings, this work was painted in 2005, the same year the Mexican artist had exhibited Samurai Tree (Invariant Red 4) in the Venice Biennale and also had his important solo exhibitions at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid and Palacio Cristal, Madrid. Orozco's Samurai Tree paintings marked Orozco's triumphant return to painting, and were first exhibited to critical acclaim in a solo exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, London and the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington in 2004.
A continuation of Orozco's ongoing exploration into spatial, geometric and organic processes, the composition spirals from a single central point, creating the sense of motion that emanates from the centre of the canvas, as well as the sense of gravity which pulls down a vertical axis to the bottom. Inspired by the mathematic logic behind the game of chess, they examine the multitude of possibilities inherent within a defined structure, illustrating the infinite number of options and strategies the game presents. The template of Samurai Tree (Invariant Red 3) was therefore generated using two rigorous systems - one for the colours and one for the diameters of the circles. The sequencing of colour is based on the 'L' shaped movement of the knight, a character Orozco identifies as a Samurai - continued until every section of the canvas is covered. The mesmerising, illusive effect of this combination of mathematical meticulousness and probability was the celebrated subject of Orozco's installation at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2009.
Orozco equates the pattern of circles and quadrants 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).