Stephen Willats

Street Diagram
October 30 − December 23, 2010

On Friday, 29th of October 2010, from 7 to 9 pm, Galerie Thomas Schulte will open the exhibition, Street Diagram, by Stephen Willats, featuring a site-specific monumental wall drawing that incorporates film projections. 

Stephen Willats, born in London in 1943, counts as one of the most influential contemporary English artists of his generation and has been frequently used as a reference point in the endeavors of following generations of artists. Acting as one of the few serious players in English conceptual art during the 1960s and late 1970s, his work has been acknowledged through numerous publications and solo exhibitions and can be found in various European museums today. Willats’ techniques range from drawing to photographic documentation, to computer operated communication devices and film.

Since the mid 1960s, Willats has been preoccupied by the notion of individual value systems and societal communication and the possibility of making them transparent by means of art. He poses the question of an individual’s personal worth in society and how the individual perceives his personal lebensraum, how he defines it, and how he makes it liveable. His work revolves around life-realities in shape of interactive and personally organized systems and their effect on the concepts of life and the identity of the people in them. How do people communicate under the constraints and limitations that inflict these specific social conditions? How do they come to agreements despite differing value systems, parameters, and life-perspectives?

Willats’ large-scale wall drawings, which have been shown in various galleries and museums in recent years, combine drawing and video projections and go back to a specific, unprecedented diagrammatic method of drawing that Willats has been developing since 1962. To Willats, his drawings become an artistic parallel-activity and a means of a concentrated yet informal expression of his concept. In his Democratic Grids, Willats depicts social models as quasi window like cut-outs from an infinitely large structure, while the drawings of his Ideological Towers series play with the abstractions of architecture and modern paraphernalia as symbols of societal ambiance and individual self-identification. Both systems come together in his Wall Drawings as seen in Cybernetic Still Life No. 6, specifically conceived for Berlin and the gallery’s Corner Space.