Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla at White Cube Bermondsey
Walking into the new Anselm Kiefer exhibition at Bermondsey’s White Cube gallery comes as something of a surprise. Gone are the soaring blank walls that give the gallery space its name; in the opening rooms, the white has been replaced with a dramatic dark grey, providing a murky gloom which is perfectly suited to Kiefer’s atmospheric sculptural works.
The central spine of the exhibition is a long corridor lined with life-sized beds, draped with metallic sheets and lined with lead. Each bears a hand-written sign naming someone significant to the artist, from friends to mythical personas. The effect is eerie, conjuring images of an abandoned mental asylum or, more appositely today, the bombed hospitals of Aleppo.
“Bombed-out” is a phrase that might appropriately be used to describe the aesthetic running through the various large-scale works presented by Kiefer here. One room is lined with charred photographs, documents and books, while in another a huge pair of eagle wings rest on a rock, as if they’ve crashed from a burning imperialist building.
These immersive installations draw the visitor through to a space that reinstates the customary white walls the gallery is known for. Here, Kiefer presents several huge paintings of post-apocalyptic worlds. These bleak landscapes combine imagery from the Second World War with Norse mythology, creating a vision of a future that feels like it’s looming ever closer. Plumes of blood rise from wavering towers, while curls of heavy metallic paint peel away from the canvases as if from the heat of an explosion.
Kiefer’s latest work is extraordinary and the exhibition created by White Cube is a museum-standard immersive experience. If you’re looking for art which is both timeless and entirely of our time, look no further than Kiefer’s vision of Walhalla.
Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla is at White Cube Bermondsey from 23rd November 2016 until 12th February 2017, for further information visit here.