aPpraise: Anselm Kiefer - Il Mistero di Cattedrali, White Cube Gallery

The new open, White Cube space in Bermondsey was a good showcase for the huge, 'feast for the eyes' canvas and sculptural based-works of Kiefer. I've seen his work before at the Tate Modern and fell in love with him then. The underlying ideas for the work stem from mythology and alchemy in particular Fulcanelli's texts which talk about the existence of alchemical codes hidden in Gothic cathedrals.

The transformative idea behind alchemy carries through Kiefer's work through his use of materials for instance the use of salt and the oxidisation process for a lot of the metal-based sculptures.  The work is 'heavy' and 'solid' and immensely physical with use of materials such as metal, wood, plaster, resin and oil paint which have manifested in a myriad of forms from the  huge folded rusted metal sheets to form leaves of a book to the metallic measuring scales  suspended in front of a canvas to oversized egg shaped plaster forms.  The predominantly metal/grey/rust colour palette in the work add to the weight. 

"Sprache Der Vogel" 1989, (Lead, Steel, Wood, Plaster, Resin)

my sketches 

my sketches

This 'weight' is also embedded in the themes for Kiefer's  work which are based on German history. The large scale foreboding canvases as well capturing desolate landscapes with columns and arches also  depict interiors of the Templehof Airport which was Hitler's dream gateway to the rest of Europe. The land on which this was built  belonged to the Knights templar - again the theme of mysticism appears which was also an obsession of the Nazis.

"Dat rosa miel apibus" 2010-11, (Oil, Acrylic, Terracota, salt lead, resin)

Being a process enthusiast, I had a 'good' close up look at the edges of the canvases and surfaces to see how the work was done. I would like to try plaster on canvas again but need to look at ways to 'fix' it - perhaps resin or mixing it with the oil paint....would also be fab to have a go at some 'huge' work but alas we don't have access to the masses of space that Kiefer has!! Someday!

The 'Merkaba' piece was particularly captivating and is a mocking reference to the chariot of God in Judaism where here it becomes a rather shaky bicycle with 3 scales of sodium, sulphur and mercury. The hint of colour, the vivid yellow of the sulphur, just gave the piece that little kick. Its all in the detail they say...

"Merkaba" 2011, (Lead, Steel, Rubber, Plaster, Resin, Salt, Oil paint)

If you love process and materials then this is your man! I'd also recommend a relaxant however before being exposed to his work as ones heart rate can increase exponentially!!

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