Anselm Kiefer: Superstrings, Runes, The Norns, Gordian Knot - White Cube - FREE - ★★★★★ - Until January 26, 2020

Der Gordische Knoten (2019) © Anselm Kiefer. Photo by Georges Poncet. Courtesy White Cube.

Anselm Kiefer is a contemporary art giant. This post World War II artist's reputation is based not only on the ambition of his ideas but also on the sheer scale of his paintings. White Cube’s aircraft hangar-like spaces provide an appropriate venue for his new work. The thinking behind the pieces is equally heavyweight. Kiefer is referencing disparate ideas and concepts, including mathematical string theory, astronomy and mythology. What holds the world together? If this sounds daunting, it’s simply about making visual the idea that everything - from past and present - is connected. But the work itself is most compelling on a material level. Enormous canvases reveal their secrets slowly. Paint is combined with straw, branches, burnt books or even an axe! These works reward close inspection: it is exciting to speculate on the physical process of their creation. In the Gordian Knot series, familiar Kiefer winter fields are now overlaid with grids or nets. The central ‘corridor’ suggests a Wagnerian stage set: 30 huge steel vitrines contain mixed media assemblages (some using demolition site material), with phrases or scientific formulae written on the glass. But this exhibition is not bombastic. It is monumental work rich in cultural and historic meaning.

Reviewed by A.L.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until January 26, 2020
Tue - Sat: 10 am - 6 pm
Sun: 12 pm - 6 pm
White Cube Bermondsey
Nearest tube: London Bridge

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