Constellation; Trip to London; Anselm Kiefer & Gerard Richter

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We took another trip to London on Friday, this time with the Constellation option. Although we were revisiting the Kiefer show, I really wanted to go once more, his work has such a lasting impression on me that I thought it would be a waste NOT to go again. We also visited the Gerard Richter show nearby, at the Marian Goodman gallery. Richter is an artist I have not looked at extensively in the past, but this exhibition really stood out to me. The way Richter plays with colour, with abstraction; it’s something I really respect. This piece, which I did not get the name of unfortunately, was what first met me as I walked into the gallery. At first I dismissed it, but under closer inspection, upon walking around the piece; I came to realise the way it reflected and refracted the light through it. As you can see in the images, the view of the world through this piece is distorted; the plane of existence, of reality, becomes fractured; multiple planes, much like surrealist paintings, come into existence through this ‘looking glass’.

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There was also a great number of paintings, well, I’m not sure I could call them paintings, on display in the gallery. They resemble oil and water blending, or possibly mould growing up a wall plastered with posters, all destroyed and worn away by the elements; the point is, we are not sure what these pieces are. I could not decide if they were pictures mounted behind Perspex, or if they were actual paintings, showing masterful craftmanship with the brush, with mark making. I could not decide what these pieces were in essence, or if they were merely an experiment into abstraction; whatever they were, they certainly had an effect on me.


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This painting actually messed with my head a great deal, as I wandered upstairs to the rest of the gallery space, I saw this large, dominating painting upon the wall; broken up by the pillars that were present within the space originally. As I began to look at the piece, it began to blur at the edges of the lines; becoming a piece which messed with my eyes, giving me slight vertigo. It was frustrating to look at, irritating even, to my eyes and my mind, and as I got closer to the piece, I could make out the numerous thin lines of colour that made up the surface of the piece.  I am amazed at how he kept the lines so straight, and so consistent across the entire surface of the canvas, which was at least 5 metres wide. It baffled the mind through it’s combination of irritating aesthetics, and through the complexity of the creation of the piece.

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There was also this series of painted photographs, numbering around 20 in total, all lined up across the wall at head level. The photographs were small, A5, but their quality was impeccable. The artist has painted on these photographs, collage in differing artistic styles, to explore an abstraction of the real world. There is an interesting juxtaposition of reality and perspective that seems to blend, if not entirely fluidly at first glance, which then starts to flow together, much like the colours in the paint placed upon the piece, the longer that you look at it. The way that the paint has been manipulated upon the surface, so as to highlight the differing layers of paint applied on the canvas, and then manipulated in a way that seems to pull, or drag, the paint up and off of the surface, is really beautiful. His work is beautiful, there’s not much else I can say about it.

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Now, to Kiefer. This piece, I had not noticed when I visited the exhibition the first time, but it opened up my eyes to the way that Kiefer seems to utilise Gold and Black in the majority of his paintings, not choosing to go out of the colour scheme of earth and metal; reds, golds, browns, light, dark, greys etc. There is a very specific ‘look’ to Kiefer’s work, a very distinct style, that he reinvents in every piece he crafts. This piece; ‘monument to the unknown artist’, details an old, debilitated Nazi building; fallen to ruin. This idea of monumentality, of accepting the past, no matter how bad it may be, and of the eventual decay and ruin of all things that have come, and will come, are fascinating. Kiefer’s interest in cycles, in the fact that societies may come, and they may go, and they will have a lasting effect on the world, plays into the concepts of rebirth and renewal that he explores within his practice.

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I discussed the two pieces ‘Margharete’ & ‘Sulamith’ previously, in my previous post about the Kiefer show. However, I cannot shake the sheer beauty of the pieces; the intense Gold, mirrored against the deep black, of each piece, each detailing the image of beauty by their respective race; The Jewish, Black haired beauty that is Sulamith, and the Golden, fair wonder of Margharete, the woman of the Nazi’s dreams. Astounding.

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A Melancholic Polyhedron, as to which I am not entirely sure of the meaning; it has been mentioned in previous works daling with alchemy and the mystical powers of metal, but critics are disputed as to where the actual image of the Polyhedron, especially a ‘Melancholic’ one, comes from. Kiefer is an enigma, and his work seems to create a riddle that has not yet been answered; a mystery, that fascinates me.

 

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