ANTWERP _ The Anselm Kiefer exhibition in the Royal Museum of Art in Antwerp has been prolonged untill the 27th of March. Because of its big success: 40.000 visitors in only three months untill now. In 22 works of art – of enormous and monumental dimensions – visitors are taken on a very emotional quest through German and world history, continuously balancing between disaster and hope.
Kiefer quotes Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann as his favourites poets. Lots of literary, mythological, biblical and Kabbala statements are made throughout his works. The used materials vary from lead, textile, puppet-clothes, dried flowers and herbs, such as ferns and palmbranches, plaster, chalk and paint…
German history has its roots in war. In ,,Wege der Weltweisheit” 34 spiritual fathers, philosophers, but also Prussian generals amongst nazi-leaders, s.a. Horst Wessel are regarded as responsable for this history, for better or for worse. Die ,,Wege der Weltweisheit” shows Martin Heidegger and his ,,Holzwege”, but also his opposite Immanuel Kant who showed Europe the way to the ,,Enlightenment”. Kiefer seems to respond to Adorno and Horkheimer’s ,,Dialektik der Aufklärung”: the dark side of our western rationality which procures from time to time outbursts of irrationality, such as the holocaust during World War II. In the middle of all those ,,heroes” burns a forest fire, the ,,Hermannsschlacht”, in history the first alliance of Germanic tribes against the Roman Empire.
In ,,Jaipur” mankind tries to discover the universe: also here the theme of a ladder connecting heaven and earth is caught in a spidernet, leading to registrated coordinates of stars and planets, precisely located on a map of the universe. These NASA-coordinates resemble all to well the identification numbers that Nazis tattooed on forearms of concentration camp prisoners. The blue stains are the reminescence of Yves Kleins spiritual ultramarine. Can we escape from this western rationality that also lead to the holocaust?
Most hopeful is ,,Fruchtbare Halbmond”: the Tower of Babel collapsed because of the linguistic confusion between the builders, but Kiefer seems to believe that the fertile crescent still is the cradle of civilization, in which developed many of the earliest human civilizations, the birthplace of writing and the wheel. Today it is a region of conflict and war, but Kiefer doesn’t see the ruins as the end, but as a new beginning of building unity in diversity. To me it is a strong multicultural statement. It’s one of the rare works in which ochre overcomes the dark grey lead.
Christien DEBLAERE, Anselm Kiefer (23.10.2010-23.01.2011), text museum-leaflet.
Paul DEPONDT, Landschappen na de slag, in: (H)ART (kunstmagazine)
Robert Hughes on Anselm Kiefer: