Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero of Luftwerk 1/24th, Light Over Light

Opening: Friday, Nov 3, 2023 5 – 8 pm
Friday, Nov 3 – Dec 16, 2023

1709 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

Volume Gallery is delighted to announce 1/24th, Light Over Light—the gallery’s third solo exhibition with artistic duo Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero of Luftwerk opening November 3, 2023, at 1709 W Chicago Ave. Chicago IL, 60622.

Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero of Luftwerk are known for their atmospheric explorations of color, light, and space. Their research-based practice seeks to capture the immaterial poetics of natural phenomena, illuminating our subjective and illusive perception of the existing spectrum of light. Their work engages viewers in specific sensorial moments, quotations from our world. They use gradients of colored light, pigments from the botanical world, and often draw insight from historical color classification systems. Sometimes site-specific and responsive to architecture, at other moments more sculpturally discrete, Luftwerk’s captivating work connects us with nature.

1/24th, Light Over Light features new sculptural works that channel natural light in more minimal and analog gestures than the collaborators have ventured before. Achromatic surfaces at first glance subsequently reveal radiant auras of subtly colored light. The concealed verso sides of the pieces employ surfaces painted fluorescent orange to reflect glowing ambient light on the surrounding wall. 

With these sculptural works, Luftwerk intends to cast shades, to reveal gestures that capture a passage of light. The work is minimal and quiet, presenting moments to hold still. Lichtstunden (hours of light) is comprised of three wall-mounted orbs, the inner rims brightly painted to project a subtle wash of warm light. Each ring is slanted at increasing increments of 15 degrees representing the passage of the sun over one hour – or 1/24th of a day. In Bend of Day, a slightly curved rectangle of white metal appears to peel away from the wall, its edges radiating a soft orange hue onto the wall behind. A monumental planar piece arcs away from the gallery ceiling at a 15-degree angle, its fluorescent reverse casting a glow above.

In Luftwerk’s practice, color and light are not simply abstract concepts or optical effects, but are utilized as primary artistic materials. These new pieces give viewers quiet moments with light, simulations of the orange light at dawn or an hour passing in the afternoon.


Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero are Chicago-based artists. After meeting in 1999 while studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, they formed Luftwerk Studio in 2007.   Their chosen name—a combination of the German words Luft (air) and Werk (work, artwork—is meant to emphasize both the ephemeral, immaterial properties of light and the material frameworks in which it takes shape and is experienced. The concept of Luftwerk has proven a conceptual touchstone for over twenty years of artistic collaboration.

Recent solo exhibitions of Bachmaier and Gallero’s work have been organized by the Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL (2022); Fosdick-Nelson Gallery, Alfred University, Alfred, NY (2022); Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, Nashville, TN (2022); Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA (2021); Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich (2020); Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, IL (2019); Cleve Carney Museum of Art, Glen Ellyn, IL (2017); Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2016); and Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, IL (2015). They have also realized installation projects for significant architectural sites including the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago, IL (2020); Barcelona Pavilion, Barcelona (2019); Farnsworth House, Plano, IL (2014); Ford Residence, Aurora, IL (2014); Millennium Park, Chicago, IL (2012); Fallingwater, Mill Run, PA (2011); Robie House, Chicago, IL (2010); and Netsch Residence, Chicago, IL (2019). The artists have realized numerous large-scale permanent public and private commissions in Atlanta, Calgary, Charlotte, Chicago, Harare, and Kansas City. Bachmaier and Gallero have been selected for residency programs at the Sustainability Lab at Bellevue University, Institute of Electronic Art at Alfred University, Loghaven, Montello Foundation, and Experimental Sound Studio, among others. They are the recipients of numerous awards, including those from the AIA Chicago, Graham Foundation, and Illinois Arts Council.

Read CGN's fall 2023 cover interview with Petra Bachmaier & Sean Gallero here.


Image: In-Reflection, Luftwerk, 2023