Every life is many days, day after day. With each new exhibition the artist puts his life, reputation and wellbeing on the line. This exhibition, In Normal Times is a kind of prelude to what I believe is perhaps the most crucial exhibition of my life and career, a retrospective entitled Journey to Nowhere (works from 1975 - 2017) at the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga, opening on 6 July 2018, in the centenary year of Latvian independence.
The exhibition in Riga is a tribute and testament to my parents, Imants and Dzidra, who arrived in Australia as ‘displaced persons’ in 1949 on the Dutch ship Volendam after the longest journey of their lifetimes. I was born the following year in 1950 in Sydney. My exhibition, indeed one could say my work, is all about “belonging” and “not belonging” – about relationships between a “fatherland” and its diaspora. In many ways this is almost the universal leitmotif of the 20th century. Much of the contemporary world, at least what is called “the new world” is populated by the descendants of refugees and immigrants, most notably Australia (let’s forget about the convicts but never forget the collateral damage to the Aboriginal people!).
In Normal Times is a meditation on these themes and includes several works destined for the Riga exhibition – the future moment when everything will be brought into sharp and perhaps unbearable focus.
Also Jura Podnieks Film Studio in Riga is producing an hour long television documentary Thrown into the World on my life and work to coincide with the exhibition. The title comes from the German philosopher Martin Heidegger who once wrote:
THE EMERGENCY OF BEING
WE ARE ‘THROWN’ INTO THE WORLD
TO BE ENDURING
TO BE ABIDING
TO BE ISSUING FORTH
TO BE EMERGING.
Imants Tillers has exhibited widely since the late 1960s, and has represented Australia at important international exhibitions, such as the São Paulo Bienal in 1975, Documenta 7 in 1982, and the 42nd Venice Biennale in 1986. Tillers will present a major solo exhibition titled Journey to Nowhere at the Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia in 2018. Major solo surveys of Tillers’ work include Meeting Place: Imants Tillers and Michael Nelson Jagamarra, Parliament House, Canberra (2017); Dreamings: Australian Aboriginal Art meets De Chirico, Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome (2014); The Long Poem, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, University of Western Australia, Perth (2009); Imants Tillers: one world many visions, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2006); Transmissions: From here and there: Works by Imants Tillers, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2004); Towards Infinity: Works by Imants Tillers, Museum of Contemporary Art (MARCO), Monterrey, Mexico (1999-2000); Diaspora in Context: Connections in a Fragmented World (touring exhibition), Pori Art Museum, Pori, Finland; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand; Waikato Museum and Art Gallery, Hamilton, New Zealand (1995-96); Diaspora: Imants Tillers, National Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia (1993); Imants Tillers: 19301 or as of October, National Art Gallery, Wellington (1989); Imants Tillers: works 1978-1988, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1988); Paintings for Venice: Australia at the 42nd Venice Biennale, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (1987); Australian Appropriations: The Recent Paintings of Imants Tillers, Vollum College Center Gallery, Portland, United States (1987); and The Bridge, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (1982). In 2005 he was awarded a Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa for ‘his long and distinguished contribution to the field of arts’, by the University of New South Wales. In Normal Times is Imants Tillers’ fifth solo exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.