These past weeks I have been painting a small lemon tree. It's not the first time that I look at this subject of a tree-like plant. I like the scale and the intricacy of the leaves and recently, after having painted such an architectural and rigorous subject as boxes for a few months, I was in need of looking at a more complex and organic form.
Another painting of a tree I love and I have been studying in paint is a Madonna and Child by Giovanni Bellini, in which the little tree is not more than a sapling.
And then of course there is the Membrillero by Antonio Lopez, documented in the film by Antonio Erice, a painting Lopez has abandoned finding it impossible to replicate the very elusive light that first got his eye, but a motif he has insisted upon in many drawings.
Then there are fantastic works by Sangram Majumdar and Sigal Tsabari that explore similar visual themes.
And so, on a much more humble plan, here come my paintings of this little resilient tree with its lonely lemon I have found at a local garden centre. Its leaves are dark and badly organized, there are stumps coming out at all angles and the fruit is pale and on the thin side.
The more I look at it the more I find this clumsy structure with its sickly looking sheltered yellow heart a very moving subject. Far from the heavy fruitful branches of Lopez's tree, I see it as a pale reminder of Mediterranean light and find myself longing for the South.
Hidden Lemon I, oil on canvas mounted on board,
Hidden Lemon III, oil on board 24x33 cm
Lemon and Boxes, oil on linen, 101x92
Hidden Lemon IV, in progress