Carretero Reintroduces Gum Bichromate Printing to Mixed Media Artists

Sorsogon, Philippines – Bicolano visual artist Choi Carretero has encouraged mixed media artists to incorporate gum bichromate printing and image transfer techniques in their artworks since his photography workshop held in 2019.

In his workshop, Carretero, also the co-founder of the Kurit-Lagting Art Collective, said: “Like many photographic methods in the past, this 19th-century photographic process is a direct contact printing using a mixture of gum arabic, a photo-sensitive dichromate, and watercolor pigment brushed on paper, which is exposed to light under a large negative.”

“[It’s my goal] to teach artists, especially those working on mixed media, the possibility of incorporating these techniques on their art pieces,” he said.

Popular in the early 1900s, gum bichromate printing allows the dichromate to harden the gum arabic when exposed to light. In places where more light reaches the gum mixture, it sets more, compared to areas where there’s less light.

After the exposure, the print is washed with water, leaving behind the hardened, pigmented gum, which forms the positive image.

Carretero added, “I’ve also included in this process other image transfer techniques. I’ve used rubber cut, monotype, woodcut, and mod podge, which is a special glue for transferring images directly onto a surface.

A multidisciplinary artist, Carretero has exhibited his art pieces in various museums and galleries with themes centering on migration, displacement, and disability. His installations, photographs, and paintings speak about the indigenous people’s voluntary and forced migrations; they tell stories of refuge, political and environmental turmoils, and territorial struggles.

Visit his website.