22 Oct 1994 - 12 Feb 1995
work in collection
The exhibition consists of a selection of works from the period 1987-1994, the accent being on his most recent work. Jeff Wall (1946, Vancouver) was trained as an artist but, shortly after completing this course of study, withdrew from the making of art in order to study art history.
In 1977 he made the switch in the opposite direction. Since then he has been working in the medium of photography and has created a modest but impressive oeuvre of about fifty works. The photographic images are presented in large light boxes that are ordinarily used only in the world of advertising.
The subjects chosen by Wall are quite diverse in nature, ranging from still lifes, portraits and landscapes to the recent macabre work which depicts a battlefield in Afghanistan that is reminiscent of historical pictures from the nineteenth century. A particularly fascinating effect is produced by these images, lit “from the inside out”, and perhaps this can be compared to that of some paintings by Goya, in which the artist portrayed his own time in an indirect and sometimes cryptic manner.
Everything in Wall’s work has meaning; each detail is placed with, great precision. He goes about his work like a film director, carefully selecting a location and the participants, shaping the light. For a number of years he has also made use of modern technology, which enables him to incorporate images by way of the computer. Like the nineteenth-century painters whom he admires (Manet, Delacroix, Géricault),
Jeff Wall is now able to build the ultimate work via individual studies until the desired result has been achieved. The image that is finally presented to us seems true to life and bona fide, though it could only have come about through a manipulation of reality. Even the most experienced viewer will have difficulty acknowledging that Wall’s staged reality is imaginary yet “true”. Mainly the more subdued works by Wall will be shown in the exhibition at De Pont, to which the new, somewhat morbid “Fight on the Sidewalk’ forms an exception. Three of the twelve works in this presentation have not been exhibited before.