Stephen Willats at Galerie Thomas Schulte

Artist: Stephen Willats

Exhibition title: ENDLESS

Venue: Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, Germany

Date: January 27 – March 10, 2018

Photography: All photographs courtesy the artist and Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin

Galerie Galerie Thomas Schulte is pleased to present ENDLESS, the eighth solo exhibition at our gallery by conceptual artist Stephen Willats. On view in the exhibition are works ranging from 1977 until today including films, collages and drawings, in which the artist addresses how we interact with the objects and symbols in our immediate environment, how we relate to them, appropriate, transform and reinterpret them.

Since the 1960’s, Willats has been considered among the most important practitioners of international conceptual art in England. His focus is on investi-gating urban conditions through communication processes, network formations and structures. In his work he looks at the personal living space and the values of the respective individual; how we per-ceive our surroundings, define them and shape them for ourselves. However, this is not only about the relationship between social groups and individuals, but also about the relationship to the semiotic sys-tems, which affect us daily in the form of architec-tural structures, objects, and sounds, which shape our personal and social experience.

In the exhibition the works are integrated into an endless wall-drawing across the whole of the gallery space, consisting of continuous swarm-like, grouped, identical arrows pointing in different di-rections. The works on paper are drawings in colored pencil and photo collages. For these, Willats photo-graphed the inhabitants of high-rise buildings and their belongings that surround them in their private sphere including telephone, television, supplies and other personal possessions. Objects that the people like and need and which belong to their habitat, ob-jects which at some point were considered modern and with which people felt kept them in touch with modern life. While in some works Willats repre-sents the relationships between people and objects as found, in others the artist creates new relations as in the series Buildings and Vases. The vases in these works are as monumental as the skyscrapers with

which they are juxtaposed. On a structural level, it could be said that buildings are themselves vessels which can absorb something while externally re-taining a concrete form. Thus, because of its struc-ture, the tower block with its reduced and modern-ist façade, for Willats serves as an object of study in his work; an object with a simple, sleek exterior, but with a highly complex, cellular interior, where people live and create their own individual worlds. In other works from the Conceptual Tower series, Willats uses intense colors to highlight geometrically abstracted objects and buildings, which he connects to each other with delicate arrows. They represent another variant of the artist’s diagrammatic systems that depict or invent transformations, relationships and communication models. As part of this group of works the four-part work Life in Various Forms with its straight-forward title appears as a collaged manifesto by the artist.

For the exhibition Willats has created a video entitled ENDLESS. In it the artist refers to the ideas and concepts of the cyberneticist and philoso-pher Heinz von Förster and his concept of a “cyber-netics of a second order”.

Although Willats’ aesthetically austere and at the same time delightfully colorful artistic lan-guage and his quasi-scientific, graphic formats are well-known, they simultaneously leave all questions open, since ultimately they are artistic creations in their own right. Thus, Willats’ work and his com-mitted practice remain closer to real life than other contemporary productions.

Stephen Willats, born in 1943, lives and works in London. Willats‘ most important solo exhibitions include Human Right at MIMA Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (2017), Man From The Twenty-First Century at the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2015), Surfing with the Attractor at the South London Gallery (2012), Counterconsciousness at Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2010), Multiple Clothing: Message Interaction Exchange (1965-1998) at Tate Modern, London (2006), How the World Is and How It Could Be at the Museum of Contempora-ry Art, Siegen (2006), Live in your Head at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2000), Buildings and People in the Berlinische Galerie (1993), Meta Filter and Related Works at the Tate Gallery, London (1982), 4 Inseln in Berlin at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1981), Concerning our Present Way of Living at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindho-ven (1980), and Concerning Our Present Way of Livingat Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1979). Willats has also participated in countless group exhibitions et al in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2008), in the Ludwig Museum, Cologne (2007), FRAC Rhones-Alpes (1997) and FRAC Haute-Normandie (1996) as well as at biennials in Berlin, Paris and Venice (1979; 1982; 2004). Willats is the founder and editor of Control Magazine since 1962.

Stephen Willats, ENDLESS, 2018, exhibition view, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, photo: © hiepler, brunier

Stephen Willats, ENDLESS, 2018, exhibition view, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, photo: © hiepler, brunier

Stephen Willats, ENDLESS, 2018, exhibition view, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, photo: © hiepler, brunier

Stephen Willats, ENDLESS, 2018, exhibition view, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, photo: © hiepler, brunier

Stephen Willats, ENDLESS, 2018, exhibition view, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, photo: © Mathias Schorman

Stephen Willats, ENDLESS, 2018, exhibition view, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, photo: © Mathias Schorman

Stephen Willats, ENDLESS, 2018, exhibition view, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, photo: © Mathias Schorman

Stephen Willats, ENDLESS, 2018, exhibition view, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, photo: © Mathias Schorman

Stephen Willats, ENDLESS, 2018, exhibition view, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, photo: © Mathias Schorman

Stephen Willats, Conceptual Tower No. 41, 2008, poster paint, pencil on paper, 79 x 134 cm | 31 x 52 3/4 in, Framed: 86 x 141 x 3.6 cm | 33 3/4 x 55 1/2 x 1 1/2 in

Stephen Willats, Strange Attractor No. 13, 2012, gouache, pencil, photographic prints, photographic dye on paper, 80 x 108 cm | 31 1/2 x 42 1/2 in, Framed: 103 x 141.3 x 5 cm | 40 1/2 x 55 2/3 x 2 in

Stephen Willats, In Transition Series No. 1, 2017, photographic prints, photographic dye, acrylic, pencil on paper, 67.5 x 133 cm | 26 1/2 x 52 1/3 in, Framed: 78.5 x 144 x 5 cm | 31 x 56 2/3 x 2 in

Stephen Willats, Conceptual Tower No. 45, 2011, photographic prints, gouache, pencil, photographic dye on paper, 85 x 122 cm | 33 1/2 x 48 in, Framed: 97 x 134.5 x 5 cm | 38 1/4 x 53 x 2 in

Stephen Willats, Strange Attractor No. 23, 2013, photographic prints, acrylic, photographic dye, pencil on paper, 84 x 132 cm | 33 x 52 in, Framed: 97 x 146 x 5 cm | 38 1/4 x 57 1/2 x 2 in

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