When I work on the non-figurative pictures in the darkroom or use photocopiers, it is a direct engagement with physical realities: from the colour and intensity of my light sources to the electrostatic charge on the copier drums. I use these elements and play with them to make pictures possible. And this is also always the question – is a picture possible? How can I manipulate my medium to utilise its full potential?
-Wolfgang Tillmans, 2014
image: Wolfgang Tillmans, Greifbar 77, 2018
Maureen Paley is to present the ninth solo exhibition by Wolfgang Tillmans at the gallery. This exhibition focuses on Tillmans’ multifaceted approach to non-lens-based image-making, featuring works from the mid 1980s to the present day. In the ground floor gallery Tillmans presents new Greifbar works created in the darkroom without negatives or a camera, but purely through the manipulation of light on paper. These Greifbar works mark a shift in the series by employing a new duo chromatic palette. Another series of Greifbar works that are more intimate in scale and restrained in their palette also punctuate the first floor gallery.
Tillmans began using photocopies in the late 1980s, understanding the possibilities they allowed him for making pictures. He has developed a uniquely inventive approach to the medium, creating many charged images. Tillmans presents a grouping of photocopy works including unique colour, and black and white copies, as well as inkjet prints of enlarged photocopies. Prior to embracing the possibilities of the photocopy Tillmans worked with drawing and painting, examples of which are also on view, and represent some of the earliest examples of the artist’s works.
Playing in the gallery’s yard is an audio work created from layered field recordings, importing a soundscape that interacts with the distinct audio sphere of the space.
Throughout his career Tillmans has been challenging the potentiality of making pictures. His work has epitomised a new kind of subjectivity in photography, pairing intimacy and playfulness with social critique and the persistent questioning of existing values and hierarchies. Through his seamless integration of genres, subjects, techniques, and exhibition strategies, he has expanded conventional ways of approaching the medium, and his practice continues to address the fundamental question of what it means to create pictures in an increasingly image-saturated world.
Wolfgang Tillmans MAUREEN PALEY. 5 June – 21 July 2019 private view: 5 June 2019, 6.30 – 8.30pm maureenpaley.com
About The Artist
Born in 1968 in Remscheid, Germany, Tillmans studied at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in Bournemouth, England, from 1990 to 1992. In 2000, he was the first photographer and first non-British artist to receive the Turner Prize, from Tate, London. From 2003 to 2009, Tillmans served as a professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. He received the Kulturpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie and was selected to serve as an Artist Trustee on the Board of Tate in 2009. He has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, since 2012 and was appointed a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 2013. Tillmans was the recipient of the 2015 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography and in January 2018, he was awarded the Kaiserring prize from the city of Goslar in Germany.
Tillmans has had prominent solo exhibitions at numerous international institutions since the early 1990s. Recent solo shows include Wolfgang Tillmans: What Is Different?, Carré d’Art – Musée d’art contemporain, Nîmes, France, Rebuilding the Future, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin Ireland, 2018; Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017, Tate Modern, London, UK, Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland and Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, 2017. The artist’s first solo exhibition in Africa, Wolfgang Tillmans: Fragile, opened in 2018 at the Musée d’Art Contemporain et Multimédias in Kinshasa and traveled to the Circle Art Gallery and The GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi, Johannesburg Art Gallery, and Modern Art Museum-Gebre Kristos Desta Center Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. In November 2018, Tillmans debuted at the English National Opera as designer for the premiere of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Forthcoming solo exhibitions include Wiels, Brussels, Belgium in 2020, and a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA in 2021.