This exhibition brings together a selection of smaller works, and works on paper by British artist Stephen Willats. This body of works, which has been built from the early 1970s onwards, explores and represents the polemics and symbolism of ‘modern building’ and its effects on contemporary life.
For almost 60 years the work of Stephen Willats has featured the ‘modern building’ especially in connection with social housing, initially as optimistic sign posts to a future society that embraced modernistic values. Later on this changed to a more critical relationship when the problems surrounding people’s actual lives in these buildings became all too apparent. Indeed, the works from the 1970’s and 1980’s mainly centre of the representation of the individual in relation to buildings in which they live and see around them, accompanying these works is the Building Series, (1987 onwards) and here in pen and ink drawings the building is represented as an object or monumental totem. Recently Stephen Willats has explored the symbolism of the ‘tower block’ as an ‘object’ that reflect the reductive ‘object language’ of contemporary society, by presenting the ‘modern building’ as a mirage, a vision of the future which is locked into a process in time in which the individual projects themselves into being part of an object based contemporary reality.
This solo exhibition focuses on his smaller works bringing a variety of different forms of treatment together for the first time.
Stephen Willats (1943, London) is a British artist, who lives and works in London. Since the early 1960s he has created works concerned with extending the territory in which art functions, while leading a critical examination of environments shaped by contemporary life. Willats is one of the forerunners of conceptual art in Europe, embracing interdisciplinary processes and theory from sociology, systems, analysis, cybernetics, computer technology, semiotics and philosophy, in the furtherance of the element of interactivity which continues to be one of the key drivers in his work.
Stephen Willats is an international figure in contemporary art; he has worked in the Netherlands since the 1970’s where his work is represented in several public collections, it has been exhibited in the Van Abbe Museum Eindhoven, De Gemeente Museum den Haag, Breda, Venlo etc. Most recently his work was seen in "Becoming Dutch" in the Van Abbe Museum. Upcoming shows include a significant retrospective that the Migros Museum in Zurich will host in May 2019.