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Thursday, 26 August 2010

Wolfgang Tillmans at The Serpentine

The Serpentine Gallery, in Hyde Park is one of a kind, and has become one of London’s best loved galleries. Every year its diverse programme attracts 800,000 visitors, and with free entrance there is no reason not to go and check out this prestigious space.

Last week I took advantage of their late night Friday opening times and went to see the Wolfgang Tillmans photography exhibition. If only galleries stayed open till 10 pm every night, I’m sure they would get many, many more visitors. I for one love going to see something after work, and know that I have missed out on a lot of shows because I couldn’t get to them in time.

This show is the first major exhibition of Wolfgang Tillmans’ work since 2003, and was conceived by the artist specifically for the Serpentine Gallery. A collection of recent and existing work is presented, showing the artist’s interest in portraiture and still life. Photos are hung from the walls with bulldog clips or stuck directly onto the wall. There is huge variety in the work, with some gritty photographs of people and objects and some much gentler, subtle abstract images. I found the Silver Installation VII 2009 (picture above) oddly mesmerising and particularly liked the random nature of the display. Tillmans’ images capture a moment but space is left for the viewer to imagine and while looking round I greatly appreciated this freedom of thought. I’m undecided about my final verdict on Tillmans work, I think the Serpentine is a great space so would encourage anyone to visit it, but personally I found the current exhibition a bit bland.

Another reason to visit the Serpentine this summer is the spectacular new Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed by Jean Nouvel. The intriguing red structure is a strange presence within the picturesque park setting. With a large presentation space and cafe as well as seating areas, table tennis tables and other games, it is bohemian heaven. On Friday evenings throughout the summer the Pavilion will host events including music, theatre, film, discussions and performances.

The Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition continues until 19 September 2010.

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