Possible tales: 36 giant photographs by Jeff Wall on display in Barcelona

Possible tales: 36 giant photographs by Jeff Wall on display in Barcelona

Barcelona becomes the epicenter of contemporary photographic art with the opening of the exhibition “Possible Tales” at La Virreina Centre de l’Imatge, La Rambla, 99, Ciutat Vella.

This exhibition, open to the public from May 24 through October 13, 2024, presents the most comprehensive retrospective of acclaimed Canadian photographer Jeff Wall in Spain, with 36 of his most striking photographic works.

Jeff Wall, born in Vancouver in 1946, is a central figure in the photoconceptualism movement, a movement that places greater emphasis on the idea or concept behind a work than on the work itself.

This approach is reflected in his large-format photographs, which are often meticulously planned and staged to create a new reality, rather than capturing the existing one. Wall has been hailed as “the photographer who paints modern life” because of his ability to fuse art and life through his compositions.

Since the late 1970s, Wall has redefined contemporary photography with his practice of tableau, a technique inherited from the history of painting that focuses on composition.

His images, which may appear to be spontaneous scenes from everyday life, are carefully constructed to communicate complex and enigmatic narratives.

The exhibition “Possible Tales”.

The retrospective at La Virreina includes works made between 1980 and 2023, selected from a group of more than two hundred pieces. This collection, curated by Jean-François Chevrier with the assistance of Élia Pijollet, brings together a diversity of themes, formats and techniques that highlight Wall’s multifaceted talent.

The exhibition is entitled “Possible Tales” due to the narrative and suggestive nature of the photographs, which seem to be the starting point for stories not yet told.

Among the featured works is one of Wall’s oldest pieces, a semi-rural landscape from 1980 that reflects a documentary view of suburban Vancouver.

In contrast, one of his most recent works from 2023 uses allegory to create a cinematic, dreamlike setting. This contrast illustrates Wall’s evolution from his early works to his most recent visual explorations.

Technique and Style: La Mise-en-scène

A distinctive feature of Wall’s work is his approach to mise-en-scène, a technique that involves detailed planning of every element in the photograph. This includes the position and expression of the subjects, the lighting, and the environment, all organized to produce a final image that communicates a specific idea.

This almost cinematic approach allows Wall to create scenes that, while carefully staged, maintain a semblance of spontaneity and authenticity.

Wall uses advanced technologies and compositional techniques inherited from painting to achieve his artistic goals. His works create complete, self-contained, thought-provoking worlds.