“What I find most appealing in people is how they are aware of their own fragility and yet are still strong and independent beings. I want to communicate this complexity in its entirety, that lack of a singular reading, and to channel the multi-layered character and the contradictions of a personality, the way they’re revealed in clothes, in styles, in attitudes, and the way a person lives. It’s the fractured reality of identity that fascinates me.” – Wolfgang Tillmans.
The exhibition Fragile provides a comprehensive overview of the many-facetted work of Wolfgang Tillmans and contains more than 200 works from 1986 to 2017. Large-scale prints, smaller photographic prints, sculptural objects and tabletop installations are part of this exhibition as well as video projections and publication projects.
Wolfgang Tillmans’s artistic work is based on his never-ceasing curiosity, his intensive research in preparation, and a constant dealing with the medium of photography and its technical and aesthetic potential. His visual language derives from precise observation that reveals a deeply human approach to our environment. Familiarity and empathy, as well as friendship, community and intimacy are visible and tangible in his pictures.
For Tillmans, acceptance of the fragility that determines us as individuals and that plays into our relations with each other is not a weakness – it is a great strength. He uses failure, ruptures, and frailty as impulses to develop new processes. They refer to the imperfect nature of our lives and they reveal unanticipated perspectives on their materiality. In these ways, Fragile highlights precious moments in life and the meaning of social and family ties, in particular in times of social and political instability.
Fragile is Tillmans’s first touring exhibition in Africa continent. After premiering in Kinshasa, then traveling to Nairobi, it will now be presented at the Johannesburg Art Gallery and tour several more African cities in the coming years.
It also includes a catalogue in English and French by Christine Eyene, N’Goné Fall, Bart van der Heide and Ashraf Jamal, which will be complemented by a local contribution at each venue.
Wolfgang Tillmans was born in 1968 in Remscheid, Germany. From 1990 to 1992 he studied in the United Kingdom at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design. He lives and works in Berlin and London. In 2000 Tillmans was the first photographer to win the Turner Prize, and in 2015 he received the Hasselblad Prize. In recent years Tillmans’s works have been shown in large museum exhibitions, including at the Tate Modern in London and at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel in 2017. Tillmans has published numerous artist’s books and has recently become increasingly politically active. In 2016 he designed an anti-Brexit / pro-EU campaign in advance of the British Brexit referendum, and in 2017 a poster campaign for greater participation in elections and against nationalist parties in the German parliament.
Wolfgang Tillmans: Fragile
8 July 2018 – 30 September 2018
Johannesburg Art Gallery
Featured image: Wolfgang Tillmans, milk & gelatine, 2001.