Wolfgang Tillmans – Rebuilding the Future
Wolfgang Tillmans (German b.1968) is a contemporary artist who lives and works in Berlin and London. He is a groundbreaking artist who has influenced contemporary photography and was the first non-British artist and photographer to win the Turner prize (2000). Tillmans first exhibited in the Irish Museum of Modern Art in a group show for emerging artists in 1997 and in a later group show in 2015. His exhibition Rebuilding the Future is his first solo show in Ireland and it will be running until 10th March 2019.
Tillmans is primarily a photographer but also works with installations and sound/music. His work is based off his engagement with the world and his stance on cultural issues namely sexuality, society and politics. His photographs are in some way a documentation of these issues but also a study of people and the environments where they take place. He documents his engagement with these issues through his still-lifes, portraits and landscape photographs. Through his use of scale, focus on detail, both figurative and abstract, and with his emphasis on colour Tillmans produces a unique perspective on these natural, artificial and occupational environments.
Tillmans’ interest in environmental factors go beyond the subject matter of his work and also plays a significant role in how he arranges an exhibition. The exhibition currently on display in IMMA incorporates the artist’s style of arrangement and reaction to the architecture of the space. The photographs are displayed unframed and under natural light. The works are displayed in part both in organised and disorganised arrangements. Some of the large scale works are placed in isolation and in focal points in the gallery space; including the entrance, the end of the East Wing and between windows. However throughout the exhibition, smaller works occupy walls, alcoves and corners breaking the traditional sense of rhythm in a gallery. This technique is done to great affect as it engages the viewer in the space and with the works. Not to mention it is a commentary on the connections and disconnections in the world.
The exhibition includes over 100 works from throughout Tillmans’ career and hence includes an array of unrelated subject matters and scenes and includes media such as photographs, installation, publications and sound. The curation of the show draws together all of these works and the attention of the viewer in a commentary on the artist’s engagement with the world. The viewer is experiencing seemingly random (non-chronological) events documented by Tillmans through his life, tied together by the overarching forces of sexuality, society and politics.