© Images Ken Ishii
10 NOVEMBER 2019 – 11 JANUARY 2020
KÖNIG GALERIE is delighted to present the work of Juergen Teller as the inaugural exhibition at its new space named KÖNIG TOKIO at MCM Ginza Haus I, Tokyo.
HEIMWEH centres on the concept of homesickness, a re-evaluation of Teller’s German identity, and his position as a European immigrant to the UK in the midst of the ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
One of the most defining works within the exhibition is a portrait of Kristin Scott Thomas wearing the ‘EUnify’ hoodie from the KÖNIG SOUVENIR range. Shot with Teller’s typically honest approach, her unrelenting, hollow-eyed stare embodies the sense of shock and disbelief at the UK’s prospect of departure.
This openness and authenticity when capturing his subjects is fundamental to the success of Teller’s practice. Marking their ten-year friendship that evolved after Teller took Johann König’s portrait for a Russian magazine that was never published, this exhibition dwells on König’s admiration for Teller’s ability to “make everyone equal” with his “no frills’ snapshot aesthetic.
Hence we see Kim Kardashian, the social media star, attempting to scrabble her way up a dirt bank outside the sixteenth-century Chateau d’Ambleville near Paris. This unexpected scenario, taken from the Kanye, Juergen, and Kim story that was produced as a supplement for System magazine in 2015, emphasizes her celebrated physique whilst foregrounding an animalistic intent of the pursuit of beauty and fame. In another work, the commodity of fashion as something to be constantly consumed is evident in the humourous image of an orange hot-dog figure adorned with a Saint Laurent briefcase and ankle boot. Originally shot for Barney’s Spring/Summer 2014 campaign, this photograph was more recently featured in Teller’s Handbags book, published by Steidl (2019).
Teller’s self-portrait on the cover of the special edition of the gallery magazine KÖNIG plays with his ability to parody the desire for perfection that is so implicit within the fashion industry by critiquing his own appearance to a comic extreme. This sense of humour, curiousity, and self-introspection is evident in ARMPIT, PARIS (2018) a candid iPhone image of sweaty brown hair that is enlarged beyond recognition. Its intimate abstraction echoes with the vibrant green mossy woodland of PARADISE II, CANADA (2017) or the tangled mass of BICYCLES NO.1, GÖTTINGEN (2019).
Indeed, the twelve large-scale photographs demonstrate the breadth of Teller’s output, from the disembodied glamour of the Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2019 campaign to the tender portrait from a children’s hospice, to immersive landscapes and surprising beautiful still lives that seek to create intriguing narratives.
The accompanying grid of forty-eight double-page spreads, entitled WIESO (2019) reworks the original layout of the October issue of German Vogue; replacing fashion models with autobiographical images that reflect upon Teller’s German identity. The carefully selected images depict the country’s landscape, architecture and food, old family snapshots, and infamous portraits of his mother, Irene, alongside self-portraits - including Self-portrait, 6th consecutive title, Bayern München, London (2018) from the beer pouring series. It is this recognition of Germaness that Johann König draws upon in his introduction to the latest KÖNIG issue – the HEIMWEH of the “wood paneling and beer, the cosy fairytale parlor, the forest, Bavarian Munich, sausage [and] deer antler trophies” that unites and represents Teller’s artistic vision.