If there is, indeed, nothing lovelier than a tree, Connecticut-based artist Bryan Nash Gill shows us why. Creating large-scale relief prints from cross sections of trees, Gill reveals the sublime power locked inside their arboreal rings, patterns not only of great beauty, but also a year-by-year record of the life and times of the fallen or damaged logs. The artist rescues the wood from the property surrounding his studio and neighboring land, extracts and prepares blocks of various species—including ash, maple, oak, spruce, and willow—and then prints them by carefully following and pressing the contours of the rings until the intricate designs transfer from tree to paper. These exquisitely detailed prints are collected and published here for the first time, with an introduction by esteemed nature writer Verlyn Klinkenborg and an interview with the artist describing his labor-intensive printmaking process. Also featured are Gill's series of printed lumber and offcuts, such as burls, branches, knots, and scrubs. Woodcut will appeal to anybody who appreciates the grandeur and mystery of trees, as well as those who work with wood and marvel at the rich history embedded in its growth.
T: The New York Times Style Magazine:
"Its a strangely moving experience to flip through Woodcut (Princeton Architectural Press, $30), a book of Bryan Nash Gills relief prints of tree-trunk cross sections, which the artist harvests from felled trees, cedar telephone poles and discarded fence posts in his native Connecticut. One is struck by how Gills method cutting blocks with a chain saw, sanding them down, burning them and sealing them with shellac amplifies the events in the life of a tree: lightning strikes, burgeoning burls, insect holes and, of course, the aging process, evidence of which radiates out in transfixing patterns. Verlyn Klinkenborg, who also writes for The New York Times, describes these cross sections in the books preface as the death mask of a plant, the sustained rigor mortis of maple, spruce and locust. They remind us, he says, that every biological form possesses a unique footprint."
Wall Street Journal:
"A swell coffee table companion for hip young DIY-ers who cultivate a lumberjack look that says they have come straight from splitting firewood, the new book Woodcut is also likely to appeal to a much wider audience."
Northern Woodlands magazine:
"Gill's woodprints are real, unique, and often stunning. They are a reminder of the histories that lay hidden in our natural environment."
Litchfield County Times:
"While many of his early works were in metals, as he created abstract sculptures that mimicked or represented the natural world, Mr. Gill in recent years has turned to etchings, actually relief prints, that impart to the viewer the sense of the inner workings, and inner beauty, really, of trees. He has published Woodcut, a book containing his relief prints of tree-trunk cross-sections that was selected as one of the 'Best Books of 2012' by The New York Times Magazine."
"Beautiful and quietly poetic,Woodcutis an absolute treat both aesthetically and conceptually, pulling you into a deeper contemplation of the passage of time as it sweeps you up in a meditation on beauty."
Rings of Life (rating 5 out of 5):
A heartbreakingly beautiful book by a great artist.