Chiaro Oscuro

Friday, Jul 10 – Aug 31, 2020

1709 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

Chiaro Oscuro will be open by appointment only at Volume Gallery beginning July 10th and continuing through the end of August. 


Volume Gallery is pleased to announce Chiaro Oscuro—its second exhibition with Luftwerk, open now at 1709 W Chicago Ave. Chicago IL, 60622.

Chiaro Oscuro—Luftwerk’s second exhibition at Volume Gallery, Chicago—is an exploration of the varying modes and forms of gradient light. With roots dating back to ancient Greece and Rome, the word chiaroscuro literally means bright/dark and refers to the use of strong contrasts within art compositions. Situating this concept of contrast, difference and changeability as a point of departure, four light-based sculptural works illuminate the gallery, evoking an ephemeral sense of constant flux. By using the power of reflection and perception to imply and summon a point of disappearance—a threshold is invoked.

Projected light and reflective surfaces activate the restrained white and grey palette of Frequencies No. 1, an undulating wall-mounted sculpture composed of mirrored stainless-steel strips, which mimics the surface of a seascape in motion. Illuminated by programmed lights from above, the wave-like form transforms its surroundings into an ethereal yet dramatic play of pattern between light and shadow.

In two works called, Vanishing Horizontal and Vanishing Vertical, eight straight lines of white neon discretely tapers down in length towards nothingness—recessing to an imagined endpoint beyond, suggesting the spatial depth of an edge, a place beyond the horizon.


Luftwerk explores light, color, and perception in immersive, experience-based installations. Focused on the context of a site for each project, Luftwerk applies their own interpretive layer, integrating the physical structure, historical context, and embedded information into each piece. Since founding in 2007, Luftwerk has amassed a significant body of work ranging from site-specific installations to experimental projects that interpret data.

Light and color are primary elements in work by Luftwerk. Their interest lies in the power of light as a crucial element to sight, exploring its dynamic relationship with the perception of color. Using various modalities—projecting videos, casting shadows, creating custom sculpture—they integrate light into every project to explore its ephemeral and shifting nature. Luftwerk has amassed a significant portfolio of work interacting with iconic architecture by architects including Renzo Piano, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe. In each project, they draw from the surrounding environment to interpret and expand on the context of the site.

Luftwerk is the artistic collaboration of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero.