Anselm Kiefer Walhalla Anselm Kiefer Walhalla

Anselm Kiefer Walhalla

23 Nov 2016 – 12 Feb 2017

Anselm Kiefer Walhalla exhibition at the White Cube Bermondsey

 

White Cube is pleased to present an exhibition by Anselm Kiefer featuring new, large-scale installation, sculpture and painting. Titled ‘Walhalla’, the exhibition refers to the mythical place in Norse mythology, a paradise for those slain in battle, as well as to the Walhalla neo-classical monument, built by Crown Prince Ludwig in 1862 in Bavaria to honour heroic figures in German history.

Throughout his career, Kiefer has interwoven themes of history, politics and landscape into his work, revisiting imagery and symbolism through different forms and media. His work conflates and connects themes, resonating with the idea of history as one continuous cycle. In the past, for example, Kiefer has employed the symbolism of Norse mythology alongside the forms of National Socialist architecture, and for this exhibition he uses this as a basis for dramatic new paintings and sculpture that deal simultaneously with notions of creation and destruction, life and death.

In the main corridor space, a major new installation which links to Kiefer’s earlier work The Women of the Revolution (Les Femmes de la Re?volution) (1992/2013), features rows of steel beds covered with dark grey, crumpled lead sheets. The beds are set close together, within a long, narrow room that has also been lined with oxidised lead. Above each bed, a small label bears the hand-written name of a person that is significant to the artist and, at the end of the room, a black and white photograph mounted on lead depicts a lone figure walking away into a bleak, wintery landscape. The whole installation, darkly lit and sombre, suggests an institutional dormitory or military sleeping quarters: one that is toxic and deathly, creating the feeling of claustrophobia and morbidity.




In his new paintings, Kiefer employs a range of media – oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac and clay – to emphasise the space of painting as a threshold into a mythic, imaginative realm. Here, a series of high towers are set amid desolate landscapes, their stacked forms exploding and dissolving into clouds of deep black or caustic blue smoke. A familiar motif in the artist’s work, the towers are based on his own sculptures made from rough concrete casts of shipping containers, including the brutalist-style towers of Jericho made for the set of In the Beginning staged at Opéra Bastille in Paris in 2009. In one such painting, Kiefer depicts the towers up-close, as if the viewer has found themselves in the ruins of some ancient city. In another work, which consists of three panels, flights of steps leading up to each tower reference the neo-classical, imposing architecture of Walhalla. Here, however, rather than the symbolic bastion of power that Walhalla aims to evoke, they are flat and two-dimensional, overlaid and set at impossible angles under the expanse of a meridian blue sky. In other pictures, which echo the landscapes of Van Gogh, the paintings are divided by a rough track, receding as far as the eye can see and often encrusted with layers of paint and deposited with a bitumen-like matter.

Several new vitrines, in different scales, continue these themes, through assemblages of soiled bleached clothes, stones, stacks of institutional metal beds, bicycles or small trees set upon squared off, cut-out sections of earth. Sealed off and displayed, these objects appear like fossils or unearthed artefacts entombed in glass and lead cases.

In the ‘9 x 9 x 9’ gallery, a dramatic, rusted metal spiral staircase disappears into the ceiling. Along its handrails hang curling strips of film reel, mounted onto lead, and soiled, robe-like dresses on wire coat hangers. In Norse mythology, Valhalla is linked to the Valkyries; women who decided who would live and who would die in battle. After making this choice, the Valkyries accompanied the dead to Valhalla, the hall of the slain in the afterlife ruled over by the god Odin. Entitled Stairway to Heaven (2016), this sculpture relates to the moment when the Valkyries arrive at Valhalla, their robes periodically discarded along the climb, suggesting loss and the trace of bodies that are no longer there.

Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla
Preview: Tuesday 22 November, 6 – 8pm
23 November 2016 – 12 February 2017

White Cube Bermondsey
144 – 152 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3TQ
Opening times

Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm
Sunday 12pm – 6pm

 

Opening times

Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm | Sunday 12pm – 6pm

  Website  @_WhiteCube  whitecubegalleries

 

 

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