Few artists have shaped the scope of contemporary art more than Wolfgang Tillmans. Since the early 1990s, his works have epitomized a new kind of subjectivity in photography, pairing intimacy and playfulness with social critique while challenging existing values and hierarchies.
Still lifes are an integral part of Tillmans’s oeuvre. As the artist explains, “The still lifes, one could say, are all lived in, lived with, made by me, half made by me, half collected over time, half arranged especially.”
At the outset of the global pandemic in the spring of 2020, Mamma Andersson began painting objects from her immediate surroundings in Sweden, reflecting a newfound stillness and isolation. This still life features two wooden hands that the artist purchased from an antique shop a decade ago and has displayed in her studio ever since.
The first objects Andersson painted during the shutdown, the hands are depicted as though reaching out from their grainy, unfinished pedestal in what the artist describes as an attempt to communicate in the absence of day-to-day social contact.
Mamma Andersson, Speaking In Tongues, 2020 (detail)
Installation view, Program, David Zwirner, Hong Kong, 2021, featuring works, from left, by Wolfgang Tillmans and Mamma Andersson
Yayoi Kusama is one of the most influential artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She began her iconic Infinity Net paintings in the 1950s and has applied their obsessive, hallucinatory qualities across her three-dimensional work while continuously returning to the theme in her paintings.
The white net pattern in this work spreads out across a dark blue background, creating from a distance an optical combination of the two colors. Although the work appears flat and uniformly repetitive from afar, a closer look reveals the materiality of the paint and unique nature of the repeating elements.
“Kusama’s critical triumph was based on her abstract Infinity Net paintings, which she unveiled in her first gallery show, in 1960.… They first made manifest the willful intensity in nearly everything she does, as well as an almost compulsive use of repetition.”
—Roberta Smith, art critic
—Roberta Smith, art critic
Installation view, Program, David Zwirner, Hong Kong, 2021, featuring works, from left, by Raoul De Keyser, Luc Tuymans, and Yayoi Kusama
Luc Tuymans is among the most influential painters of his generation and has become known for a distinctive style of painting that demonstrates the power of images. Big Brother is part of the artist’s Against the Day series, which draws on the diminishing sense of reality in an increasingly digitized society.
Big Brother uses an image from the eponymous reality television show as its source. The show’s participants live together in a house for three months, isolated from the outside world but always watched by cameras. Here, in his characteristic monochrome palette, Tuymans raises issues of surveillance and privacy in a media-dominated society.
Luc Tuymans, Big Brother, 2008 (detail)
Raoul De Keyser’s sophisticated compositions explore the relationship between color and form. Made up of simple shapes and painterly marks, the works allude to the natural world and representational imagery yet avoid a descriptive narrative that would limit experience and interpretation.
This work is from a series of paintings De Keyser made in 1999. It features a loose grid of forms defined by overlapping delicate lines of red and blue paint, a contrast that creates a visual push and pull that animates the painting.