André Lichtenberg’s large-scale cityscapes address issues of process, technology, and remembrance.
In his VERTIGO series, Lichtenberg focused solely on London. But in his series, Within, he expanded to other major cities to construct images from hundreds of architectural photographs and explore the cityscape’s profile in a distinct perspective; through a painterly study of the city in situ and its effects on memory through inverted colors and carefully crafted compositions.
Paris Nord, 2014 (Within Series)
In Paris Nord – Within Series, Lichtenberg utilizes a concept similar to drawing while constructing a multifaceted image. The sheer process of presenting so much detailed information is perhaps a metaphor for an extended dialogue. The parts of the whole all relate to one another either through form or subject.
Lichtenberg was born in the of south Brazil to mixed European heritage. As a child, he grew up in the expansive urban architecture of Porto Alegre and traveled with his family. The travels influenced his future work, as he states,
“we [our family] had occasional trips to the seaside and hilly countryside, and I really enjoyed those landscapes… My father used to draw romantic European scenes in a very realistic style – mostly rural landscapes involving alpine style mountains and lakes.”
Lichtenberg recalls his own architectural drawings made as a child, saying
“I used to draw buildings and cityscapes from a bird’s eye view point, as if I were on the roof top of a very tall building, or complex motorway junctions as seen from a helicopter… There was a sense of precision in those pictures; an almost mathematical precision.”
His educational background in the sciences also influences his style, studying Civil Engineering before receiving degrees in the photographic arts and sciences.
During our interview with Lichtenberg, we mentioned that in his bio he states that his “projects investigate childhood patterns and memories,” we asked if he could explain what patterns and memories this is in reference to? And if he has one memory in general that he feel inspired his career? He answered:
The patterns I refer to are the drawings that I often did as a child. Drawings that were very architectonic in style and often depicting places from an aerial point of view. I used to draw buildings and cityscapes from a bird’s eye view point. As if I were on the roof top of a very tall building or complex motorway junctions as seen from a helicopter. All very unusual, when I think about it, as at that point I’d never been on an airplane or on a skyscraper rooftop. There was a sense of precision in those pictures; an almost mathematical precision. Math was one of my favourite subjects in school.
Andre Lichtenberg developed selective techniques for studying the city in the solitude of night.
He started the Within series, after the passing of his father and began his time-consuming photographic assemblages. Taken from the view of his father’s balcony overlooking the city, one of his father’s favorite places. During the process of developing the image is also the time when the photographer’s youngest son was born. Lichtenberg then immerses himself in the piece, detailing childhood memories. Recalling the city’s electrical grid “mini blackouts” he experienced as a child, Lichtenberg initiates a conversation through his personal timeline.
“he [my father] 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.”
It is here that the photographer recognizes the reflective potential of his large-scale, process oriented work. In the work, Floresta, Brahma, 2012 that so closely associates the photographer’s proximity to his father, is a profound and sentimental approach to communicate. Here, Lichtenberg cements a process that not only offers the persistence of memory that photography encompasses, but also the catharsis that the process of a meticulous drawing can create.
The laborious series also reads as autobiographical narratives to the cities he portrays. In the series, the artist profiles world capitals to present microcosm-like photographs of great metropolitan areas, investigating their urban drama. His large-scale series examines buildings with precision, the difference in architectural styles, and the varying elevations while simultaneously providing historical and cultural traces.
The photographs allow Andre Lichtenberg to recreate the city.
We see the parts of the whole. In the finished photograph we sense an accumulation of energy weaving together the almost countless elements that these landscapes contain. Lichtenberg’s cityscapes are as ambitious as they are majestic. They provide a fascinating investigation into the architecture and design of major urban cities.