Anselm Kiefer has a fantastic show on at the moment at the White Cube in Bermondsey. I wasn’t too familiar with his work before (having regrettably missed his lauded exhibition at the RA a year or two ago). There a lot of stuff here: large paintings, sculptures in vitrines and atmospheric installations.
I wasn’t too fond of the paintings. They are made with very, VERY thick paint and are almost sculptural. I tend to get turned off by this way of painting, I think because it’s too 2D for me to read as a sculpture and too 3D for me to read as a painting, especially on his very obvious use of one point perspective.
The sculptures in the vitrines were wonderful. There are a ton of different materials used, but somehow he manages to pull the whole thing together into a cohesive aesthetic. Everything is ruined and monolithic and quite brutal. There’s a lot of dust and dirt which create quite a heavy feeling of time, and past violence. Aesthetically it reminds me quite a lot of Jospeh Beuys work (especially that big, old lightning bolt), but without the conceptual-shamanism. There’s a few written references to the old germanic religion, which clash with Kabbalah symbolism such that I can’t help but see this as referencing World War Two at least in part.
The best bit is the installations, however. Kiefer has clad the walls in some sort of distressed metal, dimmed the lights and filled the central corridor with cold, metal beds. There’s a couple of WWII guns sticking out from the covers, and there was strong feeling of absence of people (even though the gallery was packed).