André Lichtenberg / Within Series
‘Within Series’ is a project about architecture, sociology, history and photography that represents a major change in the direction of my practice which began around 2012.
This change saw a slower, more crafted, meditative approach to making images, where I create very large-scale urban studies of major cities going through redevelopment. Each artwork is constructed from either dozens or even hundreds of architectural photographs. This is a process that feels more in keeping with developing a large complex painting rather than a traditional photograph.
The idea of working with large-scale images was a plan for many years but I finally decided to develop it around the time my youngest son was born. I wanted to be involved in his early years so it was the ideal time to develop a long-term project that I could work on from my studio, which is very close to home.
The first large-scale cityscape of the series was however made one year later in Porto Alegre, Brazil, shortly after the sudden death of my father. This first artwork shows a large panorama viewed from his balcony overlooking the city. It was photographed the day after his funeral. It documents the view from one of his favourite places where he would reflect and admire life. The image depicts an urban valley with the famous “Brahma” beer factory. This historical building was later converted into a large shopping centre. In his words, what was once a green dale later, with progress, became a concrete valley. He had written to me several poetic and philosophical letters about that landscape, often describing it at night, while the city was illuminated by the moonlight.
On returning to the UK I started developing the image, whenever I wasn’t looking after my little boy. It took me several months to finish that cityscape and I became very conscious of the meditative and introspective quality of the process. I was immersed in detailed scenes from my childhood on a daily basis. I felt very connected with my father and my son while working on that piece.
I became aware I wouldn’t be able to carry on the project without funding, as the process was very slow and time consuming. When finally finished, I showed that first image to the Arts Council England in a meeting. They were very supportive and encouraged me to submit an application to carry on developing the idea. After several months and one initial failed attempt, my application was finally successful and suddenly I had resources to be able to research and develop the project further.
As the project evolved, most of my time was spent in the studio constructing the large-scale digital negatives. Each piece has its own final size depending on how many photos are used to build the image. The work became more about the process, my own experience, rather than the architecture. I found that I was revisiting childhood memories – as a young boy, I used to spend lots of time drawing buildings, motorway junctions and cityscapes from an aerial perspective. I also remember frequent electricity power failures – street generators that would temporarily fail, creating a sort of twilight or mini blackout in the neighbourhood.
As a practitioner, I have been aware that my main interest in photography is in the actual process and the artist’s experience. My personal projects often involve slowing down, using a tripod and long exposures. This became even more apparent in this project, where each artwork takes several weeks to be completed, sometimes months. The process also combines elements of science and art, using techniques which require precision combined with more fluid and intuitive decisions.
So far, I have created 20 large-scale artworks illustrating five cities: London, Paris, New York, Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre. Each city has its own characteristics and pace and as the cityscapes are made I am able to observe historical and cultural traces which I initially did not notice. While working on details of the New York roof tops with their many water tanks, I could see parallels to the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher with their scientific studies of industrial buildings and structures. In Sao Paulo, where vast amounts of concrete, TV antennas, tall buildings of similar height and raw graffiti dominate the skyline, the viewer gets clues about the city’s history, architecture and the culture living beneath.
For this portfolio, I have decided to show a combination of final artworks (most of them are around two metres wide while the largest measures nearly three metres), small details and installation images. I feel it will give the viewer a digital screen experience closer to that of a gallery, where one is able to see the overall artwork from a distance and then observe the details from a few centimeters away.
‘Within Series’ will be exhibited as a solo show Sep/Oct 2016 in Brazil at Galeria Bolsa de Arte (during the 32nd Sao Paulo Biennial) and a new artwork will be unveiled this March at the international SP-arte. The project has been exhibited in the UK twice in 2015 as part of a two-artist show called “Time & Place”, as a solo show in Porto Alegre and in several international art fairs over the last couple of years. One of the first studies from the Series, Fenchurch I, was selected for the Aesthetica Arts Prize 2014.
André Lichtenberg (b.1964 – Brazil), currently lives and works in Hove, UK.
Lichtenberg is a German / Brazilian artist with a scientific background. He has an MA in Photographic Studies from the University of Westminster (1995 to 1997) and his projects investigate childhood patterns and memories in connection with studies of the environment and architecture. His images are carefully constructed, using techniques that fluctuate between science and art.
André collaborates with publications such as London’s Sunday Times Magazine and Paris’ Le Monde. His images have been the recipient of several international Prizes & Awards such as the Aesthetica Art Prize, AOP Awards and the Renaissance Photography Prize, to name a few. His artwork has been exhibited in prestigious art spaces, including: the London Photographers Gallery, Barbican Centre (London), Museum da República (Rio de Janeiro – Brazil) and Centro Cultural São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil).
Lichtenberg’s photographs have become sought-after among art collectors since the show “You Are Here”, held in a pop up gallery in London’s Knightsbridge during the Frieze Arts Fair 2010. His artworks are currently held in numerous private and corporate collections on both sides of the Atlantic.
André was recently invited to collaborate with IRCAM, Centre Pompidou with his Licht Series. His artwork played a central role on the 2015 / 2016 Festival, being displayed outside the famous Parisian building as a 3 meters high print. Lichtenberg’s work was also featured in catalogue alongside Andreas Gursky as the only two artists representing the cultural event.