For his first exhibition in Portugal, Wolfgang Tillmans (1968, Remscheid, Germany) continues to expand the possibilities for the reception of his oeuvre through a radical repositioning of its multiple dimensions. At Serralves, he pays particular attention to what he describes as his “Vertical Landscapes” and the visual phenomena of light when day meets night, sky meets earth, cloud meets sky and threshold moments associated with borders.
“Wolfgang Tillmans: On the Verge of Visibility”
January 30, 2016 – April 25, 2016
Serralves Museu de Arte Contemporânea
Rua Dom João de Castro, 210
Dating from 1995 until the present, and printed in scales ranging from the standard size of photographic printing paper, to the panoramic expanse of four metres, these vertical landscapes encapsulate the expressive potential of Wolfgang Tillman’s highly developed visual formalism, and his engagement with photography as inherently physical as it is immaterial. In their unnerving beauty, produced partially by the camera makers technical advances and partly by the photographer’s insistence on allowing those advances to show, they create a challenge to the canon of visual cool preeminent in today’s visual culture.
At Serralves he has conceived the exhibition in relation to the architecture of the Museum galleries, which he has subjected to subtle structural intervention. His installation of pictures and video takes into account their spatial distribution not only on and between walls but also in relation to the distribution of different volumes and fluctuating luminosity. The chronological scope of the exhibition encompasses Tillmans’ photocopied photographs made in the late 1980s through to a number of iconic works from the 1990s and recent photographs taken with a digital camera in the 2000s and 2010s. None of the photographs have been digitally retouched. They range from the standard print size to the scale of history painting. While people and society are largely absent from the works presented in the exhibition, a reflection on the possibilities and the limits of who and what can be recorded and represented are implicit.
Since establishing his reputation in the subculture of 1990s London, Wofgang Tillmans has become one of the most influential artists of our time. His continued exploration of photography as a means to communicate reality is one that inspires and moves in its wonder and its intelligence. For Tillmans, reality is not only visual, social, economic and political, it is organic, bodily, and phenomenal, from the bodies of friends and family to the constellations of cities and plants, the celestial galaxies of night skies and the exquisite abstractions created from the impact of light in photographic process itself. If the medium of photography and its processes provide the foundation to Tillman’s work, his engagement with place, and his choreographic use of space and scale constitute a world, in which images of people and places and object-like registrations of light are part of an interconnected, physical and cosmic whole.
The artist completed his Fine Art studies at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in Bournemouth, UK. Exhibitions of his work have been shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2015), the Beyeler Foundation (2014), Kunsthalle Zürich (2012), MoMA PS1, New York (2006). Retrospectives of his work have been organized by the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2012), the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (2006) and Tate Britain, London (2003). In 2014, Tillmans participated in the Venice Architecture Biennial, curated by Rem Koolhaas, with his work Book for Architects. Since 2006 Tillmans organises the non-profit space Between Bridges first in London and since 2013 in Berlin. In 2000 he was the first photographer and non-British artist to be awarded the Turner Prize. He lives and works in Berlin and London, where he is simultaneously a member of the Akademie der Künste and the Royal Academy of Arts.
Serralves Museum opened in 1999 in order to endow Oporto with a space dedicated to contemporary art. The Museum’s core objectives are the constitution of a representative collection of Portuguese and international contemporary art; presentation of a programme of temporary, group and solo exhibitions reflecting a dialogue between the national and international artistic contexts.The architectural plans for the Serralves Museum were first drawn up in 1991 by the architect Álvaro Siza. The new building was finally inaugurated in 1999, harmoniously integrated within the surrounding urban area and the pre-existing spaces of the gardens of the Park and Villa.
“Wolfgang Tillmans: On the Verge of Visibility” is organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto and curated by Suzanne Cotter, Director, assisted by exhibition curator Paula Fernandes.
Photography courtesy of: Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne, Maureen Paley, London, David Zwirner, New York