Wolfgang Tillmans: pictures from New World (3 stars)

German photographer returns to his roots to explore new horizons

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A blurry photo of a beach by Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans, Tag/Nacht, 2009 Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Pictures from New World sees the 2000 Turner Prize winner Wolfgang Tillmans return to documentary-style photography after years of concentrating on studio-based abstract works.

The exhibition comprises sparsely arranged digital prints produced between 2009 and 2012, with the artist stepping out of his comfort zone to document ‘exotic’ terrain including China and the Middle East.

The photographs varying drastically in scale, subject matter and tone, are given ample room to breath, perhaps too ample. The proximity of some of the pieces work extremely well: for example, an enormous print of a fortuitously shot suburban scene at dusk is juxtaposed with a smaller intricate aerial view of a sprawling metropolis in the daytime. The protagonists in the former can be seen basking scantily-clad on deckchairs in the orange artificial light of the suburb, with a few topless men playing a board game set up provisionally on a pavement.

But others, including carefully composed landscapes and close-ups of fungi and flora, are given less direction. Undoubtedly this exhibition showcases the poetic handling that this artist is capable of, but a few more photographs could have made it brilliant.

Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow. Until 7 Aug 2016.

Wolfgang Tillmans: Pictures from New World

Images collected from years of the artist's travels around the world.

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