Wolfgang Tillmans

Vernissage 24.11.2015 18:00
Curator Michal Škoda
Admission free

4PM Tuesday, 24 Nov. – ARTIST’S LECTURE

at DK Metropol – Small Stage – Senovážné náměstí 248/2, 37001 České Budějovice.

Wolfgang Tillmans Harvard Astrophysics Institute / European Southern Observatory, 2012

Wolfgang Tillmans
Harvard Astrophysics Institute / European Southern Observatory, 2012



The Gallery of Contemporary Art and Architecture at the České Budějovice House of Art closes the year with the first-ever Czech exhibition by artist Wolfgang Tillmans.

Tillmans, a German artist who has long lived in London, is considered one of the most influential and respected photographers of his generation. He first came to public attention in the early 1990s, when he began to present his works not only through museums and galleries but also through more ephemeral ways such as newspapers, magazines, postcards and posters, which allowed him to reach an audience outside the art world. Indeed his first photographs, the now-legendary series Lutz and Alex, were published in i-D magazine in 1992 shortly before he presented them at the Unfair art fair in Cologne.

In his gallery exhibitions, his interest has been focused on pictures as objects within space, working with his now typical form of presentation in which he prints his photographs at various sizes using various techniques. He works with composition in such a way as to create multi-part units that he installs across the surface of the walls, all the while taking into account the specific qualities of the exhibition space and the context of the particular exhibition.

Tillmans’ work for magazines and newspapers, which he does not separate from his art but considers to be an equally valid platform of representation, explores the photograph as a bearer of content and easily transported medium. He consciously works with visuality and its hierarchization, and does not differentiate between showy and hypothetically insignificant motifs. From his point of view, he shows that things of the most diverse origins can contain different possible meanings. We thus find ourselves in a situation where spontaneous (e.g., snapshot) photography has the same value as a carefully considered work of art. The seemingly fragmented nature of images depicting visual reality offers us a general reference point in terms of both form and content.

Wolfgang Tillmans, who in the year 2000 became the first non-British artist to win the prestigious Turner Prize, is capable of using practically any material for his photographs. His interest ranges from everyday objects to the poetics of life and burning socio-political issues. In order to increase his images’ impact, he prints them in a wide range of sizes from monumental formats all the way down to the dimensions of a postage stamp.

The photographs themselves are often perfectly processed but not rarely betray signs of imperfections that may have occurred during the creative moment. The presence of such imperfections can be understood to be mean that the only things that matter are the photographer’s eye and his mind. Tillmans’ exhibitions usually feel like a set of sensations (fragments of consciousness) tracing the journey through life.

In the diversity of Wolfgang Tillmans’ work – abstraction, the use of various technological methods, and works of an emotive nature – we find one commonality, and that is a romantic view of the world. In a text written for Tillmans’ exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery, H. U. Obrist writes that Tillmans “was originally raised as a Lutheran in the small town of Remscheid, not far from Cologne, and although his work could hardly be described as religious, it feels strongly and constantly touched by displaced forms of piety, morbidity and spiritual yearning.”

Another evident characteristic of Tillmans’ work is his interest in the images’ source materials, in diverse meanings, and in the complicated nature of the real world besides poetry and intimacy. He engages in analytical processes that explore the possibilities of photography and life itself. His work gives us insight into the mind of an artist who emphasizes the socio-political dimension of his humanist way of seeing.

In his exhibition at the Gallery of Contemporary Art and Architecture at the České Budějovice House of Art, Wolfgang Tillmans will present his photographic and design work for magazines and newspapers alongside his “typical” framed / unframed c-type and inkjet prints in various sizes.

The exhibition is held with support from the Czech Ministry of Culture and IFA Stuttgart, and in collaboration with Buchholz Gallery – Berlin/Cologne.

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