Melding centuries old woodcut techniques with hypermodern digital video ones, German artist Christiane Baumgartner’s work is a compelling mixture of old and new.
Her jagged, often black and white, offerings look as if she’s taken a wet Bridget Riley painting and pushed it through a mangle (in the best possible sense), smearing the rigid geometric forms into uneven, sketchier shapes.
The biggest comprehensive exhibition of her work opens in London this week. It promises some extremely interesting contemporary work as well as an epic sized print entitled ‘Luftbild (Triptychon)’ which will cover an entire wall at the Alan Cristea Gallery in Cork Street.
Baumgartner takes everyday scenes - landscapes, objects, modes of transport even - and renders them, somehow, into complex relief form. Her larger scale prints are a little mind boggling at first. But the eye soon makes sense of the composition and its details, rather like a stereogram.
The success of her work is largely steeped in her ability to capture perspective and solidity in spite of the somewhat ephemeral nature of her technique. When making woodcuts it is crucial to keep white space without sacrificing detail, which is not easy to do. ‘Gelander III’ or ‘Transall’ are a bit like looking through at life through a wire mesh, but no detail is lost.
The show will also include the diptych ‘Ladywood’ which took the artist over a year to complete and has never-before been exhibited in London.
'Christiane Baumgartner: Reel Time' opens 17 February until 19 March 2011 at the Alan Cristea Gallery in London, www.alancristea.com