This post sort of ended up as an advertisement for one of my great loves, Mr Anselm Kiefer, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with him since I was seventeen and this is the first time he’s taken a UK gallery all for himself!
Il Mistero delle CattedraliTh or ‘the mystery of the cathedrals’ is Kiefer’s largest ever UK exhibition and for it he has taken over White Cube’s huge new Bermondsey site, there’s only seven days left to catch it so if you’re a bit of a Kiefer disciple like me then go go gooo!
As always these works reflect Kiefer’s obsession with past mythologies and histories, mystical and political systems, but focusing in particular on his fascination with the transforming nature of alchemy.
The man himself explains that…”The ideology of alchemy is the hastening of time, as in the lead-silver-gold cycle which needed only time in order to transform lead into gold. In the past the alchemist sped up this process with magical means. That was called magic. As an artist I don’t do anything differently. I only accelerate the transformation that is already present in things. That is magic, as I understand it.”
I’ve always loved Kiefer’s works because of their vast scale and weight; Kiefer builds up layers and layers of shellac and plaster on which tin planes balance precariously and metal struts jut out supporting huge iron hooks, scythes and satellite dishes. Every piece begins as a landscape which is then worked on rigorously, left out to the elements, oxidised and dissolved, and worked over again and again until it has the cracking, crumbling but still completely overpowering and domineering appearance that characterise Kiefer’s works.
The combination of Kiefer’s looming canvases, gigantic sculptures and the huge white expanses of White Cube, Bermondsey will make you feel like a tiny tiny ant…go see. Sometimes it’s good to feel insignificant.