Wolfgang Tillmans, ‘Pro-EU anti-Brexit Poster Campaign’, 2016, The Seoul Museum of Art

Born in Germany and based between London and Berlin since the early 1990s, Wolfgang Tillmans is a photographer of international renown. His photographs are distillations of everyday moments, appearing both natural and effortless. His range of subject matter varies from intimate portraits of subcultural groups, folds of fabric, scenes from nature, and abstract compositions of light and shade. He also actively involves himself in causes he believes in, from his journalistic work supporting LGBT+ communities internationally, to running the not-for-profit space Between Bridges, and most recently, his advocacy for the European Union.
The first time the UK held a referendum – where the public are directly called upon to decide on an important political issue – was in 1975, when the UK voted to join the EU. The most recent was on 23 June 2016, when it voted to leave, a decision known colloquially as ‘Brexit’. Declaring himself as ‘European’ and a ‘political artist,’ Tillmans thinks that the act of speaking about British society where he belongs now, would symbolize his passion for Europe. The artist’s faith is also exposed in pro-EU anti-Brexit Poster Campaign. In the months leading up to this vote, Tillmans designed and produced posters and t-shirts that combined images and slogans drawn from his own experiences of being part of a ‘European Family’, as a London and Berlin-based artist born and raised in Germany to Polish and Spanish parents. The overarching message of these posters, which are freely distributed online through the artist’s website, is to encourage people to sign-up and vote. Despite the result of the election, Tillmans continues to stress the importance of cultural exchange between countries in Europe and internationally regardless of their status, and posters with similar messages calling for unity have been translated into 24 languages to date.

About Wolfgang Tillmans

With titles such as Susanne, No Bra (2006) and Anders pulling splinter from his foot (2004), Wolfgang Tillmans’s oeuvre is distinguished by unabashed emotion and a tension between strangeness and familiarity. Using all the photographic technology at his disposal, Tillmans shoots portraits, still-lifes, and landscapes in which the subjects range from partially-nude friends in seemingly private moments to modest arrangements of domestic items on windowsills. Tillmans’s abstractions reveal studies in color, as seen in the magenta liquid lines of Urgency XXIV (2006).

German, b. 1968, Remscheid, Germany, based in London & Berlin