03.09.14 - As the Crow Flies – GALERIE D’(A), Lausanne, CH


As the Crow Flies

The Austrian-American visual artist Marisa Baumgartner returns to Galerie d’(A) for a second solo exhibition, As the Crow Flies. Comprising mostly of acrylic and metal leaf on photographs, Baumgartner sources her images for this series primarily from NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States) and ESA (European Space Agency).These public domain satellite images are removed from their original geo-environmental context and abstracted.The artistic interference suggests a similarity between art and the visual manifestation of the earth we inhabit,while undoubtably highlighting the escalating transformation of our environment.

As the Crow Flies includes four main series of work. Tempests and Volcanos most closely relates to Baumgartner’s previous work exhibited at Galerie d’(A), Overpaints. In these images the artist converses with the “white painting” of minimalism,“painting out” the photograph to create an image that is largely white. This continues a formal dialogue of using the pixel as paint, as well as starting a new, more political discussion of the traces left by climate change. Arteries represent Baumgartner’s newest direction in which she applies solid gold and sterling silver leaf to images, mostly of rivers and city centers. The material often highlights an area of flood,both literal in terms of a waterway and metaphorical,related to city sprawl and decay.The images themselves are striking, exhibiting unnaturally bright colors, often enhanced by infrared and false color imagery, with wild organic shapes and forms more reminiscent of the work of fellow Austrian artists Gustav Klimt and Friedensreich Hundertwasser than our everyday environmental surroundings. Melt features oozy, shiny black paint, reminiscent of tar, taking over near bare glaciers. The physicality of the paint strikes deep, reminding us of the physical and metaphorical residue remaining after the melt. Masks is a small series of four overpainted portraits. Using found images she discovered scavenging through a prop shop in New York City that sells items previously used in movie and TV sets, she painted on the glass framing the faces of these anonymous century old portraits. Their anonymity is intensified with these effective black masks, while still allowing a forced peak at what is below through the gap in the glass and image. These portraits are singular in subject matter, reminding the viewer that we are an intricate part of the shape our world takes.

As the Crow Flies, an expression first coined in The London Review of English and Foreign Literature in the mid 18th century, is literally defined as: in a direct line, without any detours caused by following a road. Outside of our huge network of ground systems and controls, a crow has the liberty to take the most direct route from A to B, a parallel method to the one utilized by a satellite. Optically, the phrase describes a bird’s eye view, the viewpoint of all of Baumgartner’s works in this series. Symbolically,the crow is a mythological icon present in almost every culture across the globe. The crow is a highly intelligent omnivorous predator that never eats an entire animal, leaving something remnant of the original, still recognizable yet greatly altered. analogous to the overarching theme of this exhibit, our current interaction with our environment and the small gestures being made to halt this process.
Born in 1980 in Washington, D.C. (USA), Marisa Baumgartner lives in New York City. The artist received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 and she received her Masters of Fine Arts from Yale University in 2006. Marisa Baumgartner exhibits throughout Europe and the USA and has had two solo museum exhibitions at the Rosenwald Wolf Gallery (Philadelphia) and the American University Museum (Washington DC). She has been reviewed by such publications as Art in America, The New York Sun, The Washington Post, Artline and Faces 69. She was published by Rizzoli in,“New York : A Photographer’s City”, edited by Marla Hamburg-Kennedy, alongside great contemporary photographers such as Roe Ethridge, Vik Muniz and Josef Hoflehner. Her work most
recently was exhibited at the Opéra de Lausanne where it was purchased and is now on permanent display.
Marisa Baumgartner is represented by Galerie d’(A) in Switzerland.


Jacqueline Bettinelli

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