Woodblock prints get modern twist
HA NOI (VNS)— An exhibition at Ha Noi's Goethe Institute by German artist Christiane Baumgartner combines the old craft of wood-block prints with the modern technology of video.
|Pre-jet: (from left) Dr Almuth Meyer-Zollitsch, head of the Ha Noi Goethe Institute; arist Christiane Baumgartner; and Ralph Lindner, director of the Cultural Foundation of Saxony with the eye-catching piece Transall, which measures 1.5m by 4.3m. — Photo courtesy Goethe Institute
The Wood Cut in the Digital Age exhibition features about 50 works by Baumgartner, who said she created her wood blocks based on images captured in her own video stills.
The show includes the eye-catching piece Transall, which features three jet planes standing in a queue and measures 1.5m by 4.3m. It was made in 2002 after Baumgartner saw a newspaper picture of planes crashing into the World Trade Centre.
"The jet plane is a symbol of power and strength, and it's also a technology that has had a great impact on people," said Baumgartner.
Prints of the work can be found in the collections of the Albertina in Vienna, the Museum der bildende Kunste Leipzig, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Zabludowicz Collection in London.
Other works including books and a video are also on display at the exhibition in Ha Noi, which will run through September.
Many of the works on show at the Goethe Institute explore the convergence of speed and a standstill. Baumgartner's chosen format is the monumental monochrome woodcut, in designs and images inspired by video stills.
"Woodcut is a very traditional art but nowadays not many people know much about it," she said. "So I have combined woodcuts with the visual art video."
Almost of the works were inspired from images in videos of simple everyday scenes such as a blurred forest seen from a moving car or a trip through a city at night.
"For 10 years I have been working with woodcuts based on selected video stills. When viewed close up the image seems abstract, but the further one is away from the picture, the more recognisable it gets," said the artist.
"The time factor is important to me and the contrast between the slow time-consuming technique of carving wood and the motifs, which are often related to speed, such as highways and airplanes."
Baumgartner studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig and at the Royal College of Art, London. Her main artistic medium is printmaking.
She is the first artist to be awarded the newly created annual residency grant, presented by the Cultural Foundation of Saxony and organised jointly with the Goethe Institute in Viet Nam.
Being a guest artist in Ha Noi for three months Baumgartner said she hoped to immerse herself in the culture and the arts scene in Viet Nam.
"I am grateful to be selected because there are many artists applying for this grant. I hope to co-ordinate with Vietnamese art students to create some good works," she said.
Baumgartner said her new work dealt with landscapes, especially with reflections in bodies of water, a motif that she wanted to further develop during her residency in Ha Noi. — VNS