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Franz Gertsch

Gelber Enzian , 2003
woodcut printed on Kumohadamashi Japan paper made by Heizaburo Iwano
89.0 x 72.0 cm
The series of woodcuts entitled Gelber Enzian isolates the gentian from the massifs from which the flower originates. Through compositions focused on this motif, Franz Gertsch demonstrates his profound interest in nature. Without attempting to offer a scientific description of the plant, what becomes visible through his gaze is his faithful relationship with the vegetal world. He focuses his attention on specific forms and details to let us glimpse the existence of a parallel cosmos.

The single colour which covers the image’s entire surface creates a discrepancy with regard to the motif and provides a different way of contemplating it. Depending on the shade of colour, yellow, green, orange or blue, the depth of field varies and the perception of the motif transforms. From the lighter tones, where the forms emerge, to the darker tones where the forms stand out, the process of the image appearing retains a magical dimension, specific to this ancestral tradition of reproduction. Unlike painting, the woodcut technique works through the removal of material, a definitive process which creates negative images, without any backward steps possible. The technique has kept an important artisanal character, just like the manufacturing of Japanese paper and that of natural colours from mineral pigments.

Franz Gertsch’s artistic approach resonates with the idea that the image has no need to be invented but merely found, selected and conveyed, as though the ultimate aim was to grab hold of an instant and to offer an extension of it. Several levels of temporality are superposed in each of his prints, that of nature, that of the artist and our own. Because of its time-consuming process and the deliberate restriction to the number of prints produced, Franz Gertsch’s oeuvre is crystallised in a limited production composed of unique pieces.
Franz Gertsch, Gelber Enzian , 2003