Euphony of visual poetics are the first words that come to mind as I meander through the Johannesburg Art Gallery, pushed and pulled by unframed artworks fashioned in non-linear layout and spatial composition by leading artist Wolfgang Tillmans. A signature of his exhibitions. Tillmans is fastidiously editing his exhibition Fragile ahead of its opening July 9 at the gallery. I am granted a preview of his first touring exhibition in the continent concluding in Johannesburg, previously exhibited in Kinshasa and Nairobi as part of Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen cultural exchange and dialogue.
The exhibition attempts to show fragility as strength, not a weakness, taking its titular references from Tillmans music band in the 1990s. The selection for this exhibition comprises more than 200 works spanning over two decades including large-scale photography, portraits, publications and video installation.
Speaking on the nature of the exhibition, Tillmans says “It’s an unusual project because there isn’t really a precedent like it. Big contemporary artist solo exhibition touring through different countries on the continent. I tried not to preemptively predict the audiences might know or not know but to instead do the exhibition that I really would like to see, myself. And trust in the universal language of my work. If it does something to me, it should be working in Los Angeles or Kinshasa in some way or other. I went to great extent to take my work in all its formats and materiality which would not be possible for many artists due to the climate conditions”. Read more