Cristobal – Photographs
Nicole Loeser, Pulse Miami 2017

Cristobal has received well-deserved acknowledgement for his work as a photographer. This outstanding German artist, based in South Africa, has taken his place in the contemporary photography art scene  – this is largely thanks to the intriguing and challenging techniques used in his almost abstract landscapes and cityscapes.

WHITECONCEPTS Gallery is delighted to present Cristobal’s latest work series: an encounter with photographic art displaying proof of his talent and the expertise of his photographic techniques. The artist’s reverence for taking manual shots and his curiosity transport us, the viewers, into a world of sensuality and striking expressionism.

Our collaboration with Cristobal reflects our mission to discover and represent outstanding contemporary artists.
We take great pleasure in introducing Cristobal’s work to all of our collectors through this exciting presentation.

Nicole Loeser

Jazz with a Camera – About the pictures of Cristobal, Marc Peschke Frankfurt 2017

“Just like in the early days of photography, when it found its way into art, painting progressed from naturalism into abstraction. In the same way our craft needs to develop further in an artistic sense in the age of digitalisation and smartphones. I chose the path of abstraction in photography; a purely manual and artisanal technique without digital manipulation,” says visual artist Cristobal, who also changed his name as part of his personal development.

“Trouble In Paradise” was the name of the photobook published by Christoph Martin Schmid. It was a fantastic compendium of elaborately staged pictures, yet the photographic element was only one of its aspects; in this series, Schmid actually showed himself to be a storyteller, a filmmaker who had lost his way and ended up in the medium of photography.

Now he has transformed himself once again, from a teller of visual stories – which depended on the brilliant sharpness of his staging – into a visual minimalist. The conceptual storyteller has become an abstract photographer, who has, likewise, given himself a new name: Cristobal.

Cristobal describes a special moment in which the desire for simplification, for abstraction, suddenly and surprisingly became concrete for him: a day at Venice Beach in Southern California. The beach promenade, the “Ocean Front Walk”, is an open-air stage for artists and musicians. There, Cristobal experienced the free, spontaneous and improvised way of playing jazz music as a direct model for his own creation. At that moment, he decided to develop a subjective approach to his photography. Everything should be new, starting with his name, as he explains: “In a similar way, my name was also jazzed up, from the precise and detailed ‘Christoph Martin Schmid’ to ‘Cristobal’.”

Now, his work no longer depends so much on details. Instead, the psychological allure of a parallel world, characterised by fuzziness and blurring, is more important, as the artist says: “Jazz with a camera, free interpretation of what is present”; this is how he has described the process of finding these images that originate solely through manual handling during exposure.

Cristobal’s new group of works is an example of how enthusiastically artists are researching the possibilities of abstract photography, which now has a long history. The photograms of Christian Schad or László Moholy-Nagy – drawings of light on photographic paper, photographs generated without a camera – are among the important early examples of abstract photographic art. Most notably, the Bauhaus teacher László Moholy-Nagy formulated his vision of abstract photography back in the early 20th century: “Painting without pigment, only with pure light in the borderland between painting and photography.”

Yet the history of photography is only one of Cristobal’s sources of inspiration. Above all, the artist finds his themes in life itself. This is exactly what he is searching for in his “American Dream” series.

This takes him to Las Vegas, where, in the light spectacle of the casino buildings at night, he captures astounding aerial images of this multi-coloured, glittering, shining, mythical city. In no other place is the American Dream more present. The words, “Anything is possible,” electrify the city – visualised here through the rays of coloured light that seem to carry the wild goings-on out of the spectacular buildings and into the world outside.

His search also takes him to the beaches of California, where he pours the soul of surfing, the spiritual character of wave-riding, into auspicious photographs whose soft, pink-blue fuzziness once again evokes the sweet myth of the West Coast: a countercultural, anti-materialistic myth of life in harmony with nature.

He also finds inspiration in Californian pools, where beautiful women glide through the refreshing blue. Here, Cristobal shows us utopias, images of yearning, a Californian hedonistic dream. The models for these works are to be found less in the sphere of photography than in painting. Think, for example, of the pictures of swimming pools by the English painter David Hockney, who lived in California for some time in the Sixties. The brightness of his pictures and their seductive atmosphere are recreated in Cristobal’s photographs.

These pictures of American myths are examples of the allure of photography, which is always new. They reside in a visual borderland between painting and photography. Cristobal blurs the traces of reality in his work, without wishing to dispense with it altogether. Things are merged together and given a sfumato effect, and they leave the sphere of reality. In this way, imaginary, atmospheric images, or visions, are generated.

Capturing the Essence
Bernhard Bauhofer, Zurich 2015

Antarctica, the New York skyline, the casinos of Las Vegas or the surfer in the pipeline – we are all too familiar and saturated with photographic images nowadays. Is there a new way to interpret nature and civilization that goes beyond mere visual depiction? The answer by visual artist Cristobal is abstraction. His images transcend the borders predefined by mainstream photography. Cristobal describes character through energy and movement.

Photography in its common practice is a form of documentation, a moment frozen in time, up for interpretation by an audience. As expressionist painters’ portrayal of landscape moved towards abstraction and defined a new visual language, Cristobal has evolved his vision in photography through combining materiality with abstraction. Capturing the essence of the scenery present, the virtuosity of the brush stroke relative to the manual handling of the camera during capture. This genuine personal technique reflects years of experimentation. Each work is a representation of unique artistic expression.

For a year Cristobal has travelled the world in exploration of land, sea and ways-of-life. To describe his approach, he explains: “I aim to capture the essence of a scene, be it a location or an activity. I focus on the inherent energy and strive to make it experienceable for the viewer”

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