David Salle Tree of Life #23, 2021
Tree of Life #23 (2021) is part of an eponymous series of works by American artist David Salle. As in other paintings from the series, the top half of the composition is vertically bisected by a stylised tree, whose roots pass precariously into a second subterranean world. Loaded with symbolism and friction, the upper scene resembles a Garden of Eden whose bright colours contrast with the two monochrome figures at its centre: a forlorn-looking man in a dressing gown and half-naked fleeing woman, rendered in the style of Peter Arno’s mid-century illustrations for The New Yorker magazine. Below, objects and shapes appear to be floating against a contrasting backdrop, as though the tree at the centre of the work were taking root in the visual language of past artistic movements such as cubism and surrealism.
David Salle’s first comprehensive survey in 20 years is on view at the Brant Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut from 16 November 2021 to 1 April 2022.