press release

Jeff Wall
18.06.2019 - 01.04.2020

The George Economou Collection is pleased to announce Jeff Wall’s first solo exhibition in Greece. Over the course of a nearly fifty-year career, the Canadian artist has revolutionized the conceptual and visual underpinnings of photography and pushed the medium into the centre of fine art practice. Since first presenting a photograph as a transparency in a lightbox in 1978, Wall has meticulously composed images that reflect and actualise specific social and historical narratives through a critical synthesis of pictorial strategies from both popular culture and classical painting. Jeff Wall offers an intimate encounter with this paradigm-shifting oeuvre. The exhibition is a focused survey of the artist’s photographs and transparencies, including some of his best-known tableaux. Works from the late 1980s up to the recent past are arranged in three groupings, reflecting Wall’s use of different historical genres, installed a dramaturgical unfolding over the three floors of galleries. A verdant street view that captures Wall’s native Vancouver opens the exhibition, exemplifying the artist’s reimagining of the beauty and sublime of the natural landscape by paying equally close attention to signifiers of modern life. In this group of works, roads, ports, prisons and tract houses populate images that might otherwise remind us of the ideal landscape painting of the nineteenth century. A key piece is Wall’s seminal An Eviction (1988/2004), which depicts a charged scene of human conflict against a sprawling vista of Vancouver’s suburbia. The work, which is part of the Economou Collection, also marks the first time Wall used digital tools to re-edit a large-scale photographic image – Eviction Struggle (1998) – adding figures and elements from other photographs taken at the time. On the second floor, an assortment of photographic prints illuminates the modes of artifice and process found throughout Wall’s work. Focusing on meticulous restagings of historical characters and events, these self- reflective photographs reveal the ontological nature of photography by explicitly presenting its subjects to the viewer. The exhibition concludes with a group of large-scale lightbox tableaux from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Works such as Insomnia (1994) and After “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue (1999–2000) are some of Wall’s most iconic images and take their inspiration from a broad range of narrative sources. Several showcase the archaeological mode of image-making rendered explicit in Fieldwork (2003), which depicts.

Jeff Wall is curated by art historian and curator Philipp Kaiser with Skarlet Smatana, Director of the George Economou Collection, in close collaboration with the artist. A publication with contributions by Philipp Kaiser and James Welling will accompany the exhibition.