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anselm kiefer - aperiatur terra
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A modern master breaks old ground in London.Thank god for Anselm Kiefer. While much contemporary art struggles with relevance, skill or impact, Kieferís art hits you like a bulldozer. His current show in London, Aperiatur Terra, proves that modern paintings can have as much impact as any great master. Kiefer often draws on biblical sources, which is strangely refreshing. Why shouldnít art address giant, fat, metaphysical questions? If it was good enough for the Renaissance, why canít it be relevant today?
Anselm Kiefer at Aperiatur Terra and Olympe - Fur Victor Hugo (detail).
His giant sculpture, Jericho, which can be viewed for free in the courtyard of the Royal Academy, is truly awe-inspiring. It consists of a pair of concrete towers, looking like they could fall at any moment. Like a giant game of Jenga or a rough-edged, modernist version of the tower of Pisa. Each tower has a boat teetering on the top and can be stepped into, so viewers can look up through holes cut through the layers. Fear, awe and the sheer physicality of the material used make for a fascinating combination. This is big work with big physical effects, which refuses to be ignored.
Palmsonntag and Aperiatur Terra et Germinet Salvatorem (detail).
Kieferís paintings, nearby in White Cubeís new Masonís Yard gallery, have a similar dramatic effect. Upstairs he gets Biblical again with an installation called Palmsonntag, consisting of a giant palm tree dumped in the centre of the gallery, alongside 18 paintings layered with palm leaves. The trio of intensely textured landscapes in the basement of the gallery are as cracked and worked as the land heís depicting; Kieferís ground is heavy with painted grooves like worn-out farmland. Sometimes the landscapes create a sense of emotional turmoil and pain, while others littered with bright flowers gleam with hope. And these are landscapes - often the least interesting genre to look at. So, hats off to a real master.
Anselm Kiefer - Aperiatur Terra is at White Cube, Masonís Yard, and the Royal Academy until 17 March 07.
Read members' comments related to this interview.
comment by theroughbounds Sep 23, 2007Stangely enough I am sitting in an intenet cafe of Leciester sqaure and waiting to get back home to the Highlands. The same one I sat in when I wrote my first post on Keifer. It makes me think that I feel nostalgic for Kiefer. That day I also bought a book by American writer R Powers in Camden and found a birth certificate in it. When I tried to return it to is early 40s owner I found out she had died. How you feel about any exerperince is formed by the experiences around it. It was raining the day I went to see Kiefer in the White Cube and that and the presence of a group of retired people and a group of school kids made the experience warmer and more playful than I imagined. I would expect to be filled with a sense of foreboding, but the things things that happened around the visit left with a warm melacholic nostalgia. In short, I dont know.
comment by beccacookie Sep 20, 2007Ive always been interested in Kiefers work however i have never been to see his work. im going shortly but was just wondering how other people felt when they entered the room in which his work was in and feeling towards his work?
comment by theroughbounds May 6, 2007Apologies for the delayed response I only just figured out that someone had replied to my comment.
Punk is not punk the 3rd of 4th time round, do you mean when a musical form is recycled by another band eg Franz F, or when its being done by the same artist eg the Stones? In the later case I find the recycling of riffs by the stones or for that matter status quo as rather bland and uninteresting, the former case I listened to some of the FF influences during the 80s and find their reinterpretation of jagged indie pop/new wave not to bad. Perhaps music is different. I have always liked Lou Reed and he continues with his chugging guitars and produces (sometime) good recordings - its not his best, but then I am past mine as well. We expect music to be ever changing but I think I would be kinda shocked if John Banville started writing 'ladlit', or Kiefer to try popart.
Never really thought about this before.
comment by Alastair Lee editor Apr 2, 2007hi theroughbounds - you make an interesting point, one that we often grapple with here on the Collective editorial team - "is it ok to keep doing the same thing?". i think assuming it's your thing, and it's still a pretty 'good' thing, then yes it's ok. No point in forcing a new style when it doesn't come from the heart. If the artist genuinely wants to do it, why should someone on the fringe (marketing, press, production) suggest otherwise. I guess it's only when the impact of the thing is detracted from by the fact that it's been done before. I mean punk is not so punk second or third time round is it?
comment by theroughbounds Mar 12, 2007I have always been interested in Kiefers work so I was glad when work took me to london and I could drop in. I went to see it while killing time waiting for the West Highland sleeper. I knew what I was going to be looking at, firstly because the show has been on for a while and I have seen the promo shots, and secondly because keifer is keifer. I had a long discussion with my brother in law (a lecturer in art and an artist himself) about whether it was ok to keep on producing such similar works. For my part, I thought so, one builds on ideas to create a world, if one draws those things that important close and understands how to be in the world, why then give it up for the shock of the new. As consuming public we seek out the new, and as consumers on the edge we must always abandon our tastes for the old and embrace the new before anyone else does - oh and then move on. Well I am a boring, mid 30s and live in the middle of nowhere so I just cant be bothered, I think i am going to keep enjoying the same old stuff, what does anyone else think
comment by rowan Feb 5, 2007I managed to get to The Royal Academy and White Cube Masan's Yard on Saturday. Jericho, The towers in The Royal Academy courtyard, are overwhelming really. Concrete building blocks the size of rooms are stacked about 2 or 3 storeys high but look as though they might fall at any moment. Wire and lead poke out of the rough surfaces and little lead boats sit precariously on top of them. Looking up at the sky through them they dwarf you and fill you with trepidation - http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=all&q=anselm+kiefe...
The work at the White Cube is like a blow to your insides. The landscapes are vast and really physical, beautiful and bleak. Palmsonntag is really lovely to look at, layers of paint over palm leaves, the carcass of the tree itself lying like a huge dead animal across the floor.
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