The Forest Invisible for the Trees

The image of the forest is often ambiguous: the cradle of humankind or an environment hostile to humans; a green hell or a paradise lost; the realm of spirits and deities or the domain of demons; a nourishing space or land to be cleared. . .
The tree, a living memorial because of its longevity, embodies time. Its leaves chronicle seasons and the concentric rings of its trunk are a record of its age. Its cyclic way of life makes us wonder about our own capacity to regenerate.

With its roots deep in the ground and its high-reaching top, the tree is seen to connect the earth and the sky and has thus acquired a sacred identity in most cultures (the Edenic Tree of Knowledge, the cosmic Yggdrasil tree, the Dodona oak, the Tree of Jesse, the Bohdi Tree of Awakening. . .). The tree of life, tree of knowledge, genealogical tree, the world tree: it symbolizes life prior to humanity, questioning our origins, our identity, and our future as we cope with phenomena that affect and upset the balance of nature (Friedman).

The attraction for the forest transcends space and time: sacred temple, untamed space, the place of romantic fusion of man and nature, trees of a thousand ornamental facets. Their serpentine motifs like endless labyrinths, their luxurious foliage and their proliferating branches have inspired ornamentation that accompanied various arts. Architecture, frescoes, and furniture are decorated with plant motifs that incite artists, by way of stylization, to go beyond figuration and to pave the way towards abstraction (Arnaud Claas, Lee Friedlander, and Pascal Duthoit).

The tree-forest, a singular expression of life and of the plural possibilities of its development, is a geography of signs that need to be deciphered (Werner Hannapel). The origin of phantasms (Jean-Luc Tartarin) in the curious minds of artists, this place of “perdition” incites us to discover the order within the vegetal chaos (Richard Misrach), a possible path to follow, a passage of initiation.

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