Oil on canvas, 66 X 96 inches, 2014
Golden Bough was begun in 1999 as a Satyrus Group project with Leo Bratenas as the lead. His concept, based on our pre-established parameters of three figure groups, and my drawings of the figures are what made up the composition. The canvas was abandoned in 2000 and sat until 2013 when I decided to revive it in a new form with a different set of content concerns and attitude on surface effects. My inspiration came from the Romantic landscape painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner of the same title (1834, Tate, London) on the ancient Roman myth and James Frazier’s 1890 book of the same title that was a study of comparative religion that influenced the origins of anthropology.
The clear life-giving waters of a hot spring set the stage for a celebration of the beauty and harmony of nature. The smooth compact forms of three nude female bodies contrast with the rough and open forms of an ancient tree beyond which an expansive vista of snow covered mountains and tree filled valleys spread. The sun sets and the moon appears. Glaciers melt and rivers flow. Mountains rise and boulders fall. Flowers bloom and birds fly. Tranquility, mystery, tradition and awareness merge in rhythm to the season. The ancient tree, with its powerful trunk, reaching branches and deep anchoring roots, is the perfect metaphor of the interconnectedness of energy, matter, space and life.