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Art review: Wolfgang Tillmans at Regen Projects II

April 1, 2011 |  6:00 am

WTillmans 707 Would anyone look twice at Wolfgang Tillmans’ pictures at Regen Projects II if his name wasn't attached to them? They are huge (roughly 82 by 54 inches), and huge, vividly printed photographs tend to enthrall, no matter the subject or integrity of the image. Otherwise, they’re a scattered lot, without even the contrived freshness that’s become a trademark of Tillmans’ installations -- multiple-sized prints, unframed, hung at various heights and intervals. The 15 pictures here are nearly identical in size and hung, by clips, in a conventional staccato rhythm around the gallery.

A few are interesting enough. “Iguazu” is a gorgeous, freeze-frame view into the face of the spectacular falls, but not unlike a standard nature calendar shot. “Ushuaia Favela” depicts a makeshift dwelling pieced together from plastic sheeting, used doors, scavenged wood and styrofoam packing panels whose shaped depressions lend an uneasy decorative flair to the humble structure, tucked in among leafless trees.

Tillmans, based in Berlin and London, photographs around the world, vacillating between subjects with idiosyncratic identities tied to their locales and images such as “Jury Inn,” a hotel interior that reeks of placeless anonymity. He tiptoes into the realm of social commentary and concern here and there but just as often retreats into the inconsequential and banal, presenting, for instance, amplified visions of a stack of egg crates and the empty glass panel of a photocopier.

Over the years, Tillmans’ uninflected gaze has become a hardened affectation, his global snapshots (writ large) inconclusive and assertively unremarkable notes on visual culture, urbanity, uniformity and more, democratic in the best and worst ways at once.

-- Leah Ollman

Regen Projects II, 9016 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (310) 276-5424, through April 9. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Image: Wolfgang Tillmans' "Jury Inn." Credit: Wolfgang Tillmans / Regen Projects