Printing Techniques Printed by hand – and by no means anachronistic

Christiane Baumgartner, White Noise 2013, woodcut on japanese paper
Christiane Baumgartner, White Noise 2013, woodcut on japanese paper | © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn e.V. 2015

Christiane Baumgartner’s woodcuts reflect today’s grids of perception, and these Jens Schubert by-passes are with futuristic, fantastically colourful linocut prints. Both artists use traditional graphic techniques to produce contemporary images.

Dizzying flickers leave fading after-images in the back of your mind. Close-up, the parallel black cross-hatchings and lacerated white of the handsome, over-sized paper overwhelms. Nothing is recognizable but this grid. Yet the images are not abstract. What you see is a question of viewpoint. Stepping back is imperative if you want to recognize things: airplanes, highways, cars, wind turbines – all mechanical vehicles of movement. Or forest. Thicket: the German forest. The viewer must move to see Christiane Baumgartner’s pictures. And to understand them. The visual strategy of the artist has been well thought out.

The “raw material” is her own video films, photos or historical television documentaries, often incidental images. Baumgartner stops the flow of images by detaching individual pictures. The sudden grasping of the meaning of the accidental. She scans the images onto her PC, produces a model, which she then realizes in the form of a woodcut. This means weeks of manual labour: exertion, concentration, patience, regularity – a balance between doing and letting be, thought and meditation.

One-second video film

  • Jens Schubert „Von Helden und Drachen“. Ausstellungsansicht, 2011, HGB Leipzig Foto: Bjoern Siebert
    Jens Schubert „Von Helden und Drachen“. Ausstellungsansicht, 2011, HGB Leipzig
  • Christiane Baumgartner, Deutscher Wald – 1 2007, Neun Holzschnitte auf Kozo Papier © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn e.V. 2015
    Christiane Baumgartner, Deutscher Wald – 1 2007, Neun Holzschnitte auf Kozo Papier
  • Christiane Baumgartner, Deutscher Wald 2007. Holzschnitt © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
    Christiane Baumgartner, Deutscher Wald 2007. Holzschnitt
  • Christiane Baumgartner, Transall 2002, Holzschnitt auf Kozo Papier © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn e.V. 2015
    Christiane Baumgartner, Transall 2002, Holzschnitt auf Kozo Papier
  • Christiane Baumgartner, Final Cut. 2006, Kassette mit 12 Siebdrucken und 4 Holzschnitten auf Arches Bütten © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn e.V. 2015
    Christiane Baumgartner, Final Cut. 2006, Kassette mit 12 Siebdrucken und 4 Holzschnitten auf Arches Bütten
  • Christiane Baumgartner, Final Cut. 2006, Kassette mit 12 Siebdrucken und 4 Holzschnitten auf Arches Bütten © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn e.V. 2015
    Christiane Baumgartner, Final Cut. 2006, Kassette mit 12 Siebdrucken und 4 Holzschnitten auf Arches Bütten
  • Christiane Baumgartner, Totentanz 1 2013, Serie von 15 Holzschnitten auf Kozo Papier © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn e.V. 2015
    Christiane Baumgartner, Totentanz 1 2013, Serie von 15 Holzschnitten auf Kozo Papier
  • Christiane Baumgartner, Totentanz 1-15 2013, Serie von 15 Holzschnitten auf Kozo Papier, Courtesy Christiane Baumgartner und Alan Cristea Gallery, London © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn e.V. 2015
    Christiane Baumgartner, Totentanz 1-15 2013, Serie von 15 Holzschnitten auf Kozo Papier, Courtesy Christiane Baumgartner und Alan Cristea Gallery, London
  • Christiane Baumgartner, Wald bei Colditz I 2014, Holzschnitt auf Kozo Papier © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn e.V. 2015
    Christiane Baumgartner, Wald bei Colditz I 2014, Holzschnitt auf Kozo Papier
  • Jens Schubert „Ariel“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2013 Foto: Marko Goehre
    Jens Schubert „Ariel“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2013
  • Jens Schubert „Held“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2011 Foto: Bjoern Siebert
    Jens Schubert „Held“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2011
  • Jens Schubert „Himmelsmaschine“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2014 Foto: Paula Gehrman. Courtesy Galerie Rupert Pfab
    Jens Schubert „Himmelsmaschine“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2014
  • Jens Schubert „Libellen“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2014 Foto: Marko Goehre
    Jens Schubert „Libellen“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2014
  • Jens Schubert „Neun Leben“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2014 Foto: Paula Gehrman. Courtesy Galerie Rupert Pfab
    Jens Schubert „Neun Leben“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2014
  • Jens Schubert „Sturmfackeln“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2011 Foto: Bjoern Siebert
    Jens Schubert „Sturmfackeln“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2011
  • Jens Schubert „Supreme“, Linoldruck, Unikat 2013 Foto: Marko Goehre
    Jens Schubert „Supreme“, Linoldruck, Unikat 2013
  • Jens Schubert „Wolkenkopf“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2014 Foto: Paula Gehrman. Courtesy Galerie Rupert Pfab
    Jens Schubert „Wolkenkopf“, Linoldruck, Unikat, 2014
Baumgartner received her training as a graphic artist at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts (HGB), studying under the wood engraving artist Karl Georg Hirsch. Filming she learned while studying in London. Back in Leipzig, she hot-wired one of the oldest and one of the newest methods of reproduction. It took ten months before the printing block of her first large work was finally cut, one of her largest so far – over a metre high and four metres wide: Transall (2002) shows military aircraft ready for take-off. Disquietingly frontal and presented in a very compressed format. A media image served as the model.

Printing on large, specially prepared paper formats is still a difficult operation requiring several hours work. The editions are small, a maximum of six copies. What a luxury of restriction!

A one-second video film is 25 frames fast. Baumgartner has transferred such a video sequence to 25 woodcuts: 1 Sekunde (2004). The compulsion to technical acceleration of bodies, images and information encounters the tempo of everyday activities. Paul Virilio’s theories of speed provided the stimulus. New works such Storm at Sea or the fifteen-part series Totentanz (i.e. Dance of Death) have grown increasingly abstract. “I’m playing with the disappearance of the image”, Baumgartner has remarked. The symbolic does not push itself forward in her often serially conceived woodcuts. If you step closer, the picture dissolves entirely; step back and it gains contour. Move you must.

Up to 25 layers on top of one another

This also applies to the linocuts of Jens Schubert, if in a very different way. Himmelsmaschine (i.e. Sky Machine) (2014), Supreme (2013), Silversurfer (2011), for example, are the titles of a few of these over one metre large prints, whose exuberant colours can not only be seen but also smelled. Their materiality cannot be reproduced by no matter how good a copy. Only by standing before the original can you see the many superimposed layers, sometimes as many as 25 of them. They are all unique. Only close-up do you recognize how the colour layers interact – how they mix or drip off on one another. And that there are “coverage differences” between the printing plates. These the artist not only simply allows; they give form and meaning. This works only on paper. Naturally it must be robust to withstand the imprint of the multiple, intensively coloured geometrical or abstract floral and animal forms. And cut and printed ornamentation can also take on a recognizable form as figuration. Schubert is interested in how the forms and meanings of symbols and patterns change historically and how they appear today. He takes up a vocabulary of archetypal forms and combines it with the worlds of computer games and fantasy. His linocut prints are an idiosyncratic synthesis of both. This is also signalled by the titles. Schubert’s colourful, futuristic works thus do not dispense with meaning – that is important to him. His exhibitions become all-over installations.

Schubert, who was born in 1983, took his diploma under the painter Annette Schröter at Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts and completed the Master Class programme in 2011. He put aside the painter’s brush for the linocut. The outstanding workshops and teachers of the Academy keep seemingly outdated printing techniques alive. The internationally renowned graphic artist Christiane Baumgartner is currently giving students there the benefit of her experience.