Kristen Everberg White Birch Grove, South (After Tarkovsky), 2008. Oil and enamel on canvas on panel.

Hayward Gallery’s Among the Trees: artists respond to trees

According to a 2015 study published in the journal Nature , at current rates of deforestation, in 600 years time there will be no trees left on the planet. The Hayward Gallery’s latest exhibition, Among the Trees, explores new ways of representing trees so we can greater understand their importance. Words Ralph Rugoff

Approximately 50 years ago, coinciding with the rise of the modern environmental movement, the subject of trees emerged as a motif in works by some of the most adventurous and influential artists of the time. In the years since, this engagement with trees has grown into a rich vein of contemporary art. While their art draws on the visually arresting character of trees – including their complex spatial and architectural forms – their work invites us to reimagine our relationships with trees and forests as both symbols and living organisms that have helped to shape human civilisation and continue to play an indispensable role in our lives and imaginations.

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The Hayward Gallery’s new exhibition Among the Trees runs from 4 March to 17 May. See below for a selection of the pieces on show.

Yto Barrada Terrain Vague – Tanger (Vacant Lot – Tangier), 2001. Chromogenic print.
© Yto Barrada 2020. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Polaris, Paris.

Yto Barrada Terrain Vague – Tanger (Vacant Lot – Tangier), 2001. Chromogenic print. © Yto Barrada 2020. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Polaris, Paris.

Mariele Neudecker And Then the World Changed Colour: Breathing Yellow, 2019. Mixed media including water, acrylic, salt, fibreglass, spotlight.
© Mariele Neudecker 2020. All rights reserved, DACS 2020. Courtesy Pedro Cera and the artist. Photo: Benjamin Jones.

Mariele Neudecker And Then the World  Changed Colour: Breathing Yellow, 2019. Mixed media including water, acrylic, salt, fibreglass, spotlight. © Mariele Neudecker 2020. All rights reserved, DACS 2020. Courtesy Pedro Cera and the artist. Photo: Benjamin Jones.

Johanna Calle Perímetros (Nogal Andino), 2012. Typed text on vintage notarial ledger.
© © Archivos Pérez & Calle 2020. Courtesy Archivos Pérez & Calle. Photo: J.P. Gutiérrez.

Johanna Calle Perímetros (Nogal Andino),  2012. Typed text on vintage notarial ledger. © Archivos Pérez & Calle 2020. Courtesy Archivos Pérez & Calle. Photo: J.P. Gutiérrez.

Abel Rodriguez Terraza Alta II, 2018. Acrylic and ink on paper.
© the artist and Instituto de Visión 2020. Courtesy the artist and Instituto de Visión.

Abel Rodriguez Terraza Alta II, 2018. Acrylic and ink on paper. © the artist and Instituto de Visión 2020. Courtesy the artist and Instituto de Visión.

Toba Khedoori Untitled (branches 1), 2011-2012. Oil on linen.
© Toba Khedoori 2020. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.

Toba Khedoori Untitled (branches 1), 2011-2012. Oil on linen. © Toba Khedoori 2020. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.

Zoe Leonard Untitled, 2000. C-print.
© Zoe Leonard 2020. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and Hauser & Wirth.

Zoe Leonard Untitled, 2000. C-print. © Zoe Leonard 2020. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne and Hauser & Wirth.

Pascale Marthine Tayou Plastic Tree B, 2010. Exhibition view REM(A)INDERS, Galleria Continua, Beijing, 2010. Wild pear-tree (Pyrus pyraster), plastic bags, Chinese pot, plants, flowers, soil.
© the artist 2020. Courtesy the artist and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana. Photo: Oak Taylor-Smith.

Pascale Marthine Tayou Plastic Tree B, 2010. Exhibition view REM(A)INDERS, Galleria Continua, Beijing, 2010. Wild pear-tree (Pyrus pyraster), plastic bags, Chinese pot, plants, flowers, soil. © the artist 2020. Courtesy the artist and Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana. Photo: Oak Taylor-Smith.

Kristen Everberg White Birch Grove, South (After Tarkovsky), 2008. Oil and enamel on canvas on panel.
© the artist 2020. Courtesy the artist and 1301PE, Los Angeles. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen.

Kristen Everberg White Birch Grove, South (After Tarkovsky), 2008. Oil and enamel on canvas on panel. © the artist 2020. Courtesy the artist and 1301PE, Los Angeles. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen.

Jennifer Steinkamp Blind Eye, 1, 2018. Video installation.
© the artist 2020. Courtesy greengrassi, London, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photo: Jennifer Steinkamp.

Jennifer Steinkamp Blind Eye, 1, 2018. Video installation. © the artist 2020. Courtesy greengrassi, London, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photo: Jennifer Steinkamp.

Toba Khedoori Untitled, 2018. Oil on waxed paper.
© Toba Khedoori 2020. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.

Toba Khedoori Untitled, 2018. Oil on waxed paper. © Toba Khedoori 2020. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.

Introduction is an excerpt from Among the Trees catalogue (Hayward Publishing) by Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery.

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The exhibition Among the Trees is at the Hayward Gallery, London from 4 March to 17 May. Hayward Gallery, London SE1 8XX. Tel 020 3879 9555, southbankcentre.co.uk