Wolfgang Tillmans’ approach to image-making is fascinating in its non-hierarchical approach to both subject and theme. This, along with his constant desire to push the boundaries of photography as an artistic medium, makes him one of the most interesting and innovative artists working today.
A solo show at the Serpentine Galleries in 2010 reinforced his respected position in the field, he has recently held solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2015), and the Beyeler Foundation, Basel (2014) whilst a major solo show at the Tate is upcoming in 2017.
He is most definitely therefore well worth catching over in Bethnal Green where Tillmans is having his eighth exhibition at the Maureen Paley Gallery. Featuring new and previously unseen work, the show focuses on the visible and invisible borders that define and sometimes control us.
Central to the downstairs gallery is a large and impressive unframed print of The State We’re In, (2015) that documents the open water of the Atlantic Ocean where international time lines and borders intersect.
This is displayed alongside images made at the Northern and Southern European Observatories that look beyond our national boundaries.
Also on show are photographs that study the visual effects of the Sun’s light entering our planet’s atmosphere and an image of human blood flowing through plastic tubes, contained outside of the body during surgery.
In the upstairs gallery a new grouping of tables that follow on from his truth study center series (2005 – ongoing) are installed. Somewhat less impressive is I refuse to be your enemy 2, (2016) which enacts another use of this display format by presenting various sizes of blank office paper from Europe and North America.
Inspired by a workshop that Tillmans gave to students in Iran last year, this work examines the similarities in our nationalised forms of printed communication and how these formats can unite rather than divide us.
Continuing on this theme of unity over division, examples of Tillmans’ pro-EU poster campaign are presented on the exterior of the gallery. But perhaps we should not talk talk much about those.
Wolfgang Tillmans runs until 31 July 2016.
More information can be found at: www.maureenpaley.com