The everyday is transformed by the all-seeing eye of German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans
“I take pictures, in order to see the world”. This famous quote by Wolfgang Tillmans casts a little light on the nature of his art, being celebrated in a retrospective in Belgium this year. Tillmans is known as perhaps the world’s most renowned abstract photographer; but look through his works and you will see that he is many other things, and, ultimately, more of a philosopher than a ‘mere’ visual artist.
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These two portraits (above), taken in the 1990s, when Tillmans was creating works based on his experiences in post-punk London and struggling with the challenges of being HIV positive (his partner, Jochen Klein, died of AIDS in 1997), are of a young Chloë Sevigny and ‘Adam’, a faceless man crouching.
Many of his images from the period related to rave culture and the coming out of a hedonistic generation in the 90s, though he insists he was not interested in documenting a movement or a time. His works rise above the period they were created in: like the art of his compatriot Gerhard Richter, they use time as an abstract reference on which to build concepts and intrigue and bemuse the observer.
Due to Covid-19, the artist’s retrospective ‘Wolfgang Tillmans: Today Is The First Day’ at WIELS in Brussels is currently closed until further notice. For further updates visit: wiels.org
View the artist’s full portfolio: tillmans.co.uk
This article will also be published in the Summer 2020 Issue, hitting newsstands in May 2020.