Thursday, 2 February 2012

Anselm Kiefer: Il Mistero delle Cattedrali (White Cube, Bermondsey SE1)

Sprache de VĂ–GEL - Language of the Birds (Telegraph 2011)
Lead, steel, charcoal, salt, wire, silicone, acrylic, pastel, plaster, terracotta, oil paint, canvas, oil.
Dishes of mercury and salt, trailing lead ribbons impressed with images of sodium crusted waves, vast expanses of steel sheeting corroded, painted and distressed, great swathes of hacked, forged and moulded imagery offer these elements in an open hand. The tale is one of sorcery and corruption. The title of the exhibition is taken from the esoteric publications by Fulcanelli (1926) which claimed that the Gothic cathedrals of Europe had openly displayed the hidden code of alchemy for over 700 years. This monumental set of works by the German artist lays alchemy and it's masonic and earthly origins bare with great rusted metal folds of parchment holding the sorcerers secrets (Sprache de Vogel). The centrepiece is the massive set of canvas and steel hangings depicting rotted and corroded (poisonous and acidic) images of runways, sheds and a mystical  cathedral at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. This was Albert Speer's masterplan for the Nazi reconstruction of Berlin, intended to be Hitler's gateway to Europe and seen as many as a blueprint for modernist airport construction since. Standing on land once owned by the Knights Templar, the images of this decaying airport are accentuated with hanging and fallen dead sunflower plants, their heads curled by the blacksmith's hammer, rusting and bare-rooted. The show is stunning for it's imagery and for it's undertaking, it is immense.
This show comes off on the 26th February 2012, White Cube SE1 3TQ