Liquid Light, a solo exhibition of new work exploring the themes of transience and immateriality by German artist Christiane Baumgartner, opens at the Alan Cristea Gallery 21 March and runs through to 21 April 2018. Baumgartner, who combines contemporary technology in the form of digital video and photography alongside time-honoured woodcutting techniques, will unveil monumental prints depicting ever-changing natural phenomena including the effect of sunlight, moonlight and electric light on landscape scenes.
In addition to film stills and photography, the images depicted in Baumgartner's new works have also been sourced from magazines and the internet. Once Baumgartner has selected an image that she wants to use, she modifies it on a computer using line grids and then transfers it onto a wooden support (often plywood), carving the image by hand. Baumgartner can work on some woodblocks for up to several months before printing an edition in her studio in the famous Leipzig Cotton Mill in East Germany.
The Wave, 2017, measuring 149.3 x 210.4 cm, reminiscent of Hokusai's iconic nineteenth-century woodcut, shows a colossal cresting wave, depicted an instant before crashing downwards. Baumgartner also captures rippling light reflected on water in Liquid Light I and II, 2017, and Golden Beach, 2018. For a second monumental woodcut, Phoenix, 2018, measuring 150.0 x 213.0 cm, Baumgartner experiments with colour to depict a large plume of smoke rising out of a volcano.
Much of Baumgartner's work takes the form of diptychs or series of images depicting the same scene, captured moments apart. Nordlicht, 2018, a group of four new prints, records the sun setting through a wooded landscape over a period of nine minutes. Baumgartner also uses reversed images. Weisse Sonne and Schwarze Sonne, 2016, both based on her own photographs, depict two versions of the sun; what you see when you look directly at sunlight and the image that this imprints on your retina. The colours and intensity of light omitted from car headlights is explored in a series of unique prints in nine different colour variants, entitled Cosmic Fruits, 2016.
Baumgartner comments, "Translating a still image into a woodcut makes the work a powerful instrument demanding an emotional, retinal and physical response. Through my selection and transformation of a single frame, I create a unique woodcut that brings experience and weight to an otherwise unexperienced moment."