Wolfgang Tillmans opens new exhibition at Fondation Beyeler. Franka Eberlein on the photographer who pushes boundaries
It’s a big year for Wolfgang Tillmans. A major show of his at Tate Modern closed a few days ago, but not before another one opened at the renowned Fondation Beyeler – and just in time for the art world’s annual congregation for Art Basel. These days Tillmans is everywhere, and that’s a good thing.
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And while Wolfgang Tillmans may be a household name, the breadth and variety of his work will bring radically different images to mind: his one-of-a-kind portrait of Kate Moss holding a head of Broccoli, the poster campaigning against Brexit stating “No man is an island. No country by itself,” his EPs 2016/1986 and Device Control, the minimalistic Paper Drop series of folded photographic paper, or his explicit pictures at Berghain’s Panorama Bar. The multi-faceted connotations that surround the artist’s name make it obvious that Tillmans outgrew the category of photography a long time ago. He is pushing the boundaries of what it means to be an artist today, and in doing so he works through complex social, economic, sexual, and political present day realities – all the while trying to make a positive impact on the world around him.
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His photographs are formally perfect and technically outstanding, his ever-evolving methods of display add another layer of meaning to his exhibitions. Tillmans takes great effort in making every room of an exhibition feel different. Neither of his two recent shows follow a chronological order: Instead, the sequence is dependent on the individual mood of the works themselves and their relationship to each other. At a Tillmans exhibition you will find inkjet prints attached directly to the wall with bulldog clips, boxy Plexiglas frames, magazine pages, and pictures lying flat in glass vitrines. While the white cube atmosphere at Tate Modern provided the perfect backdrop for Tillmans subtle interventions into the gallery space, the sheer beauty of the Fondation Beyeler – with its multiple views into surrounding nature – tends to overpower the artist’s presentation techniques.
And while 2017 at Tate Modern focused on the 2003 to 2017 period, Fondation Beyeler choose to present a retrospective approach to Tillmans’ practice after adding a considerable number of the artist’s works to its collection. Around 200 works dating from 1986 to 2017 will be on show through the 1st of October alongside a new audiovisual installation. If you manage to find a blank spot in this year’s demanding art calendar, make sure to pencil this one in.
Find more information on Wolfgang Tilllmans via his website here or his Instagram Account (@wolfgang_tillmans) here. To get further impressions of the exhibition at the Foundation Beyeler visit their website here.
The exhibition will be available from the 28th of May 2017 until 1st of October 2017.
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