Robert Buelteman has plunged into a universe possessing an infinite variety of colors and shapes — from earthly to dazzling and minimal to complex. It is the natural, ubiquitous, lushly erotic zone of plants, all of whose characteristics, ranging from the subtle to the dramatic; from the modest to the flagrant, from the virginal to the sinister, are stratagems for the perpetuation of their species. Their distinctions include the reductive linearity of Pampas Grass, the balletic grace of the Calla Lily, the antique laciness of the Poison Hemlock, the ingenuous vulgarity of the Garland Chrysanthemum, and on and on.
The theatrical glory of these images dissolves inhibitions about any descriptive terms that they might evoke. They come as close as possible for visual representations to give, as music does, direct expression to life’s flux. They are songs of life — quartets of art, science, imagination and skill. The cumulative effect of the poetic litany of their Latin nomenclature reinforces this musicality; Conium maculatum, Cirsium vulgare, Delairea odorata, Helianthus annuus, Avena fatua, Cortaderia selloana, Vitus vinefera . . . .
Photographers, through their medium, by painting, drawing, and writing with light, arrest moments of time, of flux. Artists of Buelteman’s caliber may be as much mediums of whatever divine presence exists as were the makers of cathedral windows.
Buelteman, through his unique, innovative use of technology, preserves, in these works, the ephemeral beauty of plants - visual metaphors for human life and accompaniments of its ceremonies. These images inspire, as have his black-and-white landscapes in the past, more than a little awe.
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, United States
Melissa Morgan Fine Art, Palm Desert, CA, United States
PHOTO Oakland, Oakland , CA, United States
Sharon Dellamonica Fine Art, St. Helena, CA, United States
Walker Fine Art, Denver, CO, United States
Signs of Life, Robert Buelteman, Robert McDonald, Light Language Publications, Montara, 2009 Eighteen Days in June, Robert Buelteman, Robert Hass, Custom & Limited Editions, San Francisco, New York, 2000 The Unseen Peninsula, Robert Buelteman, Harold Gilliam, Oracle Publications, Carson City, 1994 A Vision of Life, Breakthrough Foundation Youth at Risk Participants, Sprit Press, San Francisco, 1988
Robert Buelteman is a celebrated fine art photographer whose works connect audience to subject in an emotionally transcendent manner consistent with the traditions of eastern wisdom and western revelation. Whether examining the grand landscape or inquiring into the design of plants, his prints are a powerful extraction of beauty and substance revealing unrecognized dimensions in the commonplace.
Buelteman’s creative process begins in the field with his selection of a subject, after which he brings the living subject into the studio. First, the 8x10-inch color transparency film is laid flat on the easel with the light-sensitive surface face up. Then the sculpted subject is placed on the film and then wired through a battery jumper cable to a grounding source to avoid the possibility of electrocution. The process of imaging begins with the introduction of high frequency, high voltage electricity into the exposure matrix to create the ultraviolet aura of ionized gas that surrounds the subject. Then fiber-optic light is used to paint the subject by hand, scattering through the subject, and onto the film where the exposure energy is recorded.
In essence, these are paintings made with the energy of light and electricity using the living plant as both source and filter.
Robert Buelteman is an artist whose fascination with transcendence is reflected in his photographs, portraying the universe as alive and life as playful. Whether examining the grand landscape or inquiring into the design of plants, his print work is a powerful extraction of beauty and substance revealing unrecognized dimensions in the commonplace. Mr. Buelteman developed his love of the land as a child growing up in the small town of Woodside on the peninsula south of the city of San Francisco. From his family home he looked out on the Santa Cruz Mountains, whose deep canyons, redwood groves, and daily tides of ocean-borne fog inspired the veneration of life and light that appear in his work today. He has published fifteen photographic portfolios over his forty years in photography, and three of these, The Unseen Peninsula (1994), Eighteen Days in June (2000), and Signs of Life (2009) were published as monographs. In 1999, Buelteman left photographic tradition behind in creating Through the Green Fuse, a portfolio of unique photograms made without cameras, lenses, or computers. As a result of the success of this new work, Mr. Buelteman was appointed to be the Artist-in-Residence at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico in 2003. In 2006 Buelteman completed work on two new portfolios, Sangre de Cristo, the flora of Santa Fe, and Rancho Corral de Tierra, the flora of his hometown of Montara located on the North coast of California. In 2008 this new work was recognized with a Gold Award in B&W Magazine’s prestigious single image competition. In 2009, as a guest at Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological preserve, Mr. Buelteman began work on two new collections of work deepening his artistic inquiry into the design of life. He has received accolades from institutions as diverse as the United States Congress, the Commonwealth Club of California, Committee for Green Foothills, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Since 2010 his art was the subject of essays in 23 languages on six continents around the globe, and can be found in public and private collections worldwide, including the Yale University Art Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers, Bank of America, Adobe Systems, Stanford University, Xerox, and Nikon. The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives. -Albert Einstein f America, Adobe Systems, Stanford University, Xerox, and Nikon.The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.—Albert Einstein
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