Saturday 7 April 2018

Liquid Light, Christiane Baumgarter

Liquid Light by Christiane Baumgartner, at Alan Cristea Gallery, Mayfair.

Liquid Light depicts ever-changing natural phenomena including the effect of sunlight, moonlight and electric light on landscape scenes.

Baumgartner combines contemporary technology in the form of digital video and photography alongside time-honoured wood-cutting techniques. In addition to film stills and photography, the images depicted in her 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.

'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'. Christiane Baumgartner.

This was a very frustrating post to do. There was a lot of reflection from the gallery lights and because these woodcuts are so delicate, the photographs came out very distorted. I was consequently unable to use most of the photographs I took.

Lindenallee, 2018, (woodcut)

Lindenallee, 2018, (woodcut)

The Wave, 2017, (woodcut)

Reminiscent of Hokusai's 19th century woodcut, this shows a colossal cresting wave, depicted an instant before crashing downwards.

Nordlicht, 2018, (woodcut)

This one of a set of four, records the sun setting through a wooded landscape recorded over a period of nine minutes at 5.59, 6.00, 6.01 and 6.08.

Nordlicht,  taken at 5.59

Kleine Landschaft, 2018, (woodcut)

With and Without Thinking - Ultramarine, 2018, (etching)

Again, this is part of a set of six, but only one was successfully photographed.

Weisse Sonne, 2017 (woodcut)

Based on her own photograph, Weisse Sonne is what you see when you look directly at sunlight. Schwarze Sonne, which I could not include, depicts the image that gets imprinted on your retina after looking directly at sunlight.


  1. Thanks for posting this despite your difficulties. I am glad that you enjoyed the exhibition. I know Baumgartner's work well and am entranced by the outcome as well as the method. I was delighted to find someone else who uses both digital and hand tools in combination.

    By the way, another great artist who recently has used film stills and woodblock printing to depict light is Annie Bissett:

  2. I feel that this post is so incomplete, Olga, because part of the beauty of this body of work is the difference in the prints of the same subject: the four different woodcuts of Nordlicht for instance, and the way the light changed. There is a book coming out next year though, and I intend to get it because I would love to re-visit this exhibition.

    Wonderful work by Annie Bissett, thanks for the link.