Cactus bristles with exuberant beauty, color, enchantment and a menacing covering of thorns, very much like life itself in these troubled times. Unlike other flowering thorny-plants, including the rose, the cactus offers no solace, no fragrance, no friendliness. No one can gambol insouciantly through a cactus bush, no one can greedily reach to pick a juicy prickly-pear to satisfy thirst, or casually grab a frond to eventually peel and enjoy in a salad (like the Mexicans manage to do with their napales), not unless one has cast-iron skin.
What the cactus does give us is stunning visuals and a dizzying array of asymmetrically coordinated design features, making them a treasure trove for the photographic lens. I run into a fortune of cactus when out for a peep at how the upper half live in the Aktur luxury-holiday village down the beach from my cottage on Bitez Bay. I am trekking along with my trusty canine friend BlueEye (her other eye is brown) who stays by my side even when it rains, to keep things safe for me. There, in the midst of seriously well-appointed villas (seriously locked up in the off-season) is a cactus garden in full bloom with its own unusual flowers, so devastatingly attractive you want to dive into it and dream, were it not for its forbidding and unrelenting shield of those injurious thorns.
I return to Aktur several times in as many days. I capture the cactus in various lighting situations as the February stormy weather gives me unpredictable conditions that change from moment to moment. Despite the late winter that seems to be lingering, there are various wildflowers that have blossomed near, around and even through the cactus, adding their own color and shapes to the landscape. It feels as if I am wondering inside an impressionist painting with expressionist detail that will self-alter and regenerate at will. This is mutable art as only nature herself can muster and I am but a transient visitor here to grab the moment.
Words by Byron Ayanoglu
Photographs by Algis Kemezys © 2012