"Christiane Baumgartner's art is slow art, like slow cooking. It takes time to produce and it demands to be savoured and in those characteristics it seems to protest at the speed of the world. She may be fascinated by speed and enjoy the sense of liberation that accompanies it but she recognises its potential for destruction. This ambivalence lies at the heart of her work."
Christiane Baumgartner is best known for her monumental woodcuts based on her own films and video stills. She first came to public attention in the UK in EAST international in 2004 and a year later with a major solo exhibition at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Her work is held in over 30 public collections around the world including the Albertina, Vienna; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Baumgartner is particularly interested in the passage of time; much of her work takes the form of diptychs or series of images depicting the same scene, taken seconds apart. The sheer scale of these works and the fact that she prints them herself in her studio makes them some of the most exciting and ambitious prints being made today. This exhibition will include new and recent woodcuts on varying scales, many of which will be shown for the first time. Formation I & II shows two frames isolated from a video which depict Second World War planes and their shadow cast on the ground. Treffer continues this theme of war and destruction with four images of explosions. Brandenburg is a smaller work made especially for the exhibition which shows one of the artist's classic images of a still from a journey on a motorway.
All these works demand viewing from a distance and yet the blurring of the horizontal lines seen close to is equally captivating. Baumgartner's work often documents time, distance and speed and yet the results are still and contemplative. It is the combination of the ancient art of woodcut with contemporary digital technology which makes her practice so innovative.
Following her exhibition at Alan Cristea Gallery, she will be exhibiting in October at the Royal College in a group show curated by Christopher Orr and has her first solo show at SPACEX gallery, Exeter, in December.
Quote: Jeremy Lewison, At the Still Point of the Turning World. The Prints of Christiane Baumgartner, 2007, published by Johan Deumens, Haarlem.