Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Oak. One tree, three years, fifty paintings. By Stephen Taylor, with a foreword by Alain de Botton. Princeton Architectural Press, 2011. 112pp., illustrated throughout, 19,7x23,5 cm.

I love oak trees. I grew up in a suburb next to a small hill of old oak trees, oak trees that was somehow always part of our childhood and whose essence I still carry with me to this day. So strong is the spirit of those trees, so clear in my mind, that recently - many years later - when someone completely unconnected to that time and area started talking about a small hill of oak trees I knew instinctively it was the same one (which indeed it was).

Considering this, it is not strange that I really like this book and series of paintings by Stephen Taylor - paintings of one oak tree painted repeatedly over and over again over the course of three years. The seasons changes, the time of day or night, the mood, the life around it, but the tree stands as it always has.

Book description:

"It was an exercise to learn how to see, to understand just one thing in its greatest detail. Stephen Taylor came across the 250-year-old tree while on a walk in Essex, England, six years ago, shortly after the deaths of his mother and close friend - a tragic time that brought him back to painting and then to an obsession with realism and color perception.

He painted the same oak scores of times over a period of three years, in extremes of weather and light, at all times of day and night.

Oak is nature's creed of endurance (the tree was standing when Jane Austen was just a baby) and of one man's promise to find beauty in a painful world."

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