apex

  apex 
  oil on canvas l 30"x84" l september 2009  l  SOLD  
   (click image to return to gallery)   
 
  apex 
   (click image to return to gallery)   
  

As in the last post, this work zooms in on an isolated cluster of plants that acts as a focal point for an entire desert island.  In this case, the island is relatively round in plan, rising steeply on all sides to a rounded but pronounced summit at the very center. The slopes are covered by low, leafless scrub, with the summit bare except for three or four giant Opuntia cacti (two or three meters tall).  There may be a few cacti scattered elsewhere on the island, but shorter and less conspicuous.

The left-most portion of the work shows the island as seen on approach, in early morning, with the summit ("apex") just visible.  A climb to the summit, reached at mid-day or late afternoon, brings the viewer to the group of cacti growing out of dark, hot, bare rock, as suggested in the middle of the work.  The sliver of blue and purple just to the right can represent either open sky beyond or water below, both emphasizing the height of the summit above the surrounding land and ocean.  The right-most section shows the slope down the other side of the island as viewed from the summit - at some distance but at much closer range than the other slope as seen from the water.  In this composition, then, as in some of the others, foreground, middle-ground and background are all represented but not from the same vantage point and not in succession from front to back.

Rabida Island, Galapagos, with saltwater lagoon, red sand beach and fur seals in the foreground. Some Opuntia cacti are visible climbing the hills just behind the lagoon. (my photo)All the images come from the Galapagos Islands - the left-hand slope from Floreana Island, the right-hand slope from Isabela Island (the same scene as in Windward Coast), and the cacti from Rabida Island.  The scene from Floreana actually inspired the entire composition.  I imagined this near-symmetrical peaked hill, in reality overlooking a freshwater flamingo lake rather than the ocean, as an island itself, with unique plant life at the very top. 

Opuntia echios, Santa Fe Island, Galapagos

Opuntia echios, Santa Fe Island, Galapagos

Rabida is a striking island of red earth and red sand, dotted with large Opuntia cacti.  The cacti in the composition were actually photographed on a rocky bluff overlooking the ocean...unfortunately I didn't have an opportunity to explore the interior of the island.

A fascinating diversity of Opuntia (Prickly Pear) cacti is found in the Galapagos - a unique species has evolved on nearly every island, and many of these reach tree-like proportions.  A forest of Opuntia echios on Santa Fe Island contains the world's tallest individuals of the genus, reaching 12m. 

Darren