William Wegman. New Paintings

William Wegman. New Paintings

recreation by william wegman

William Wegman

Recreation, 2003–2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007Friday, November 2, 2007


London, United Kingdom

ROBILANT + VOENA are pleased to announce a major solo exhibition of celebrated American artist William Wegman. This will be Wegman’s first London show since his landmark 1990 ICA appearance, and follows on from the extensive retrospective William Wegman : Funney/Strange, which opened in 2006 at the Brooklyn Museum, New York and closed in July 2007 at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Massachusetts.

Wegman’s oeuvre is multi-faceted and extensive in its methodology. Since the 1960s he has employed whatever media are appropriate to the concept at hand and has translated his ideas using the gamut of the artist’s toolbox. Starting with photography and video in the 60s, adding text pieces (1970-71) and performance, drawing (1973), altered prints of his own photographs (late 70s), then moving onto his critically acclaimed colour Polaroids (1979), venturing into public sculpture (1985-88), painting (since 1985) and moving through children’s books (early 90s) to filmmaking (1994), Wegman has shown a remarkable agility in distilling his subject matter. He is dedicated above all to the creative idea, rather than any specific style or medium. However, whether one considers his conceptual photos and videos of the 1970s, or his later, widely popular photographs of Man Ray, his charismatic Weimaraner, or indeed his collaged landscape paintings of recent years, one always finds the common thread of a smart, gently subversive humour which parodies our ideas of the familiar, including the acceptable conventions of artmaking.

His new paintings continue to explore thematics which have been his primary concerns for decades, and reveal the layering of method and concept that is his hallmark. Wegman has been altering photographs through drawing since the 1970s, whereby his interest in issues of perception, identity and altered reality led him to use wordplay and line drawing in amending black and white photographs to create simultaneously humorous and strange images, revealing his enduring concept of life’s essential oddity.

His paintings are an extension of this idea, and an expansion of his method to using found vintage postcards to generate often vast painted landscapes. A multi-coloured array of greeting cards and postcards functions as the initial marks laid down onto wooden panels, which Wegman then embellishes and enhances using oil paints, connecting one card with the next with densely painterly passages creating dreamlike landscapes and illusionary stories. Countries, cultures, epochs and species collide, and an almost childlike joy of exploration rules. In Recreation, an enormous work of some 213 x 365 cm, made with three wood panels between 2003 and 2007, we see a bullfighting toreador, next to Japanese geishas, under dancing pin-up girls, next to a bereted canine photographer, all set against lush landscapes of seas, lakes, mountains, waterfalls and sky. The huge variety of unexpected juxtapositions and mental surprises demand our attention and keep it occupied in a maze of visual stimulation. As Peter Schjeldahl describes Wegman’s painted world: “This is the cosmos of the serious child, who daydreams to lay hold of a reality conceived to be stable and ultimately accessible”. ROBILANT +VOENA will present eight new paintings.

William Wegman was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1943, and received his B.F.A. from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston in 1965, and an M.F.A from the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign in 1967. Since then he has exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Walker Art Centre (1982), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1988), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1990), Whitney Museum of American Art (1992), and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2002).

ROBILANT + VOENA are excited to be continuing their contemporary art programme with this important exhibition of Wegman’s new work, which follows on from their 2005 survey of Julian Schnabel’s Pintura del Siglo XXI, the 2006 ‘Freeze!’, and the recent sell-out Elger Esser: Photographs of June 2007.

For further information and photographic material please contact the Gallery Director – Mira Dimitrova Stein, mira@dirobilant.com, tel. 0207 409 1540, or see our website – www.robilantvoena.com

Press and Private View : Tuesday, 9th October 2007, 6 – 9pm