Wolfgang Tillmans at The Serpentine Gallery, London
26 June—19 September 2010
The Serpentine Gallery presents Wolfgang Tillmans’ first major exhibition in London since 2003. Conceived by the artist for the Serpentine Gallery, the exhibition will present figurative and abstract work from the last ten years.
Over the past 20 years, Tillmans has redefined photography and the way it is presented. Known in the early 1990s for his seemingly casual images of the world he inhabited, his work reassessed photographic conventions and reflected the culture and identity politics of the time, capturing the fragility of human life and focusing on everyday objects. His work has always engaged with portraiture, landscape, and still life, but more recently Tillmans has turned to a deeper exploration of abstraction, and has pushed the boundaries and definitions of the photographic form.
The wide-ranging themes in Tillmans’ photographs are recon- figured with each site-specific installation. In this new exhibition, explorations into abstraction sit alongside a renewed focus on the figurative – a focus that is increasingly informed by recent colour-saturated works and experi- ments with process. Referring to his approach to installation, Tillmans has commented that in creating these ‘constellations of pictures, I try to approximate the way I see the world, not in a linear order but as a multitude of parallel experiences. Multiple singularities, simultaneously accessible as they share the same space or room’.
Tillmans continually challenges photographic practice by playing with exhibition methods, often pinning or taping his work to gallery walls, building study tables that resemble museological vitrines, or creating wall-based cases for selected works. Each exhibition is a renegotiation and rearrangement of material, ideas and subjects. For each installation, he investigates the process of exhibition and image-making, intuitively reflecting the politics of our shared contemporary society. Tillmans’ images capture the essence of a moment, and the pictures and installations that the artist has created over the last two decades are an alchemical blend of detachment and engagement.
The Serpentine Gallery exhibition reflects the artist’s acute sensitivity to the world around him, his ongoing fascination with colour, and his conceptual engagement with the technical processes of photography. His delicate yet challenging images capture the distinctive energetic balance between beauty and subversion that Tillmans has long embraced.
Tillmans was born in 1968 in Remscheid, Germany. In 1995, his work was exhibited in the Serpentine Gallery exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours), curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and in 2000 he won the Turner Prize. His most recent solo exhibitions include Freedom from the Known at P.S.1, New York in 2006 (which toured North America), and Lighter at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin in 2008. In 2009 he was included in Making Worlds at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Tillmans lives and works in London.