one world many visions
14 July – 16 October 2006
Imants Tillers is one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, nationally and internationally. It is surprising, however, that while he has been granted important solo exhibitions internationally, there has not been a substantial solo show of his work at a major gallery in Australia. It is fitting that the National Gallery of Australia should be the institution to recognise the accomplishments of this senior artist with the exhibition Imants Tillers: one world many visions.
Following the exhibition of his work at the Venice Biennale in 1986 and survey shows of his work in The Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 1988 and the Museo Contemporaneo Monterrey in Mexico in 2000, Imants Tillers: one world many visions will provide the opportunity to consider a substantial body of work tracing high points of Tillers’ artistic development over the last 20 years. Key paintings will start with a selection of those included in the Venice Biennale in 1986, continuing through works such as the amazing Hiatus 1987, Auckland City Gallery (referencing Colin McCahon’s work in the Gallery's collection Victory over death no.2), through to the present works.
Since the early 1980s, Tillers has been working on what is widely recognised as the Book of Power, or the Canvasboard System. Drawing upon a wide range of art and historical sources, making pertinent local and international connections, this system consists of individual paintings comprising numerous canvasboard panels which are part of a larger, ever expanding work. Tillers has sequentially numbered each canvasboard panels on its back, from 1 to almost 80,000, an ongoing project that might be considered as one neverending book.
Inspiration for Tillers' distinctive system came from the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé who wrote in 1895: 'Everything, in the world, exists to end up in a book'.
While the existing body of work (which is also a body of knowledge determines to some degree what comes next, there is always, within this system, an openness to chance, to serendipity, to coincidence and the possibility of new directions and unexpected interventions. Imants Tillers
Deborah Hart, Senior Curator, Australian Painting and Sculpture, has worked closely with Tillers to select works from international galleries and private collections, exploring the major themes of his work from 1981 until now.
Among the highlights of the exhibition are four remarkable paintings, each around ten metres in width, dealing with diasporas of people around the world, starting with Diaspora 1992 (Museum of New Zealand, Wellington). These works, some of the largest ever painted in Australia, suggest concerns of loss, fragmentation and survival, and have a deeply personal relevance for Tillers, whose parents migrated from Latvia in 1949. There will also be a major installation of works that have never been publicly exhibited before, including Terra incognita 2005 and works from the Nature Speaks series 1998–2006.
Imants Tillers: one world many visions will give visitors the opportunity to experience Tillers' spectacular large-scale works, together for the first time in this country.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by the National Gallery of Australia, and a multimedia component both in the exhibition and on the Gallery's website.