Anselm Kiefer: History Matters
Having paid a visit to the North-East of England over the week-end, I made time to visit the Baltic Gallery for Contemporary Art to see the Anselm Kiefer exhibition. He is described as being one of the foremost figures of post-war painting. This is the largest exhibition of Kiefer’s work seen in the UK for many years. The work spans forty years which includes major paintings presented over two floors of BALTIC’s galleries.
Kiefer’s work is concerned with his fascination with myth, history, theology and literature and is brought together in monumental proportions. Being a German artist his work is regarded as a way in which he could attempt to overcome his sense of Germany’s past and help him to come to terms with it. The subject matter of his most recent works are concerned with religious traditions and symbolism of different cultures.
The exploration of unorthodox materials in Kiefer’s work – lead, ash, rope and human hair – gives a sense of emotional potency and therefore could be described as being more sculptural than painting.
In the exhibition there are three paintings from the artist’s early Parsifal series (1973). These works are drawn from Richard Wagner’s last opera of the same name. In the work Palette 1981, we see an image that is concerned with the difficult legacy inherited by artists in post-war Germany: the artist’s palette hangs from a single burning thread evoking shame, loss and the apparent impossibility of artistic creation.
The exhibition runs until 16 January. A film about Keifer, ‘Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow’ has just been released. The trailer is only 2 minutes long but shows Keifer at work and is well worth a watch, as is the rather longer interview with film director Sophie Fiennes