Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla
at White Cube Bermondsey
Until 12th February 2017
Taking its name from the Walhalla monument, the famed Bavarian acropolis built by Crown Prince Ludwig in 1862 that holds busts and plaques of important historical figures, the latest exhibition from German artist Anselm Kiefer has opened at the Bermondsey branch of the White Cube.
Kiefer’s exhibition makes its sinister entrance through a long, dark corridor lined with rusting hospital beds. In this spooky sanatorium setting these wheeled beds are draped in brittle, stiffened, grey bedclothes and at the foot of every bed hangs a sign scrawled with a handwritten name.
The sense of unease rises as you walk down the corridor, weaving between those ominous empty beds, with small galleries opening up to the left and right. In one, untidily stacked storage boxes spew forth reams of film or long strands of Rapunzel’s hair whilst in another a rock sits regally in the centre of a winged double bed. A 9-metre-high spiral staircase inhabits another gallery, making reference to the mythical Valhalla of Norse mythology. Tattered and stained dresses, symbolising the slain Valkyries, hang from the twisting rails as the staircase rises through the ceiling to connect the land of the mortals with Valhalla.
Beyond the sinister monochrome gloom of the entrance, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The show opens out into the bright expanse of the White Cube’s South Galleries and there you find the paintings and the vitrines. Kiefer’s massive and thickly impastoed paintings of smoking towers in war-torn landscapes are gloriously highlighted in yellow and brown ochres and vivid Prussian blue. The power of these magnificent paintings is offset by haunting vitrines containing assemblages of soiled clothes or stacks of hospital beds.
Anselm Kiefer’s Walhalla is an absolute powerhouse of a show. If you loved Kiefer’s 2014 exhibition at the Royal Academy, you won’t want to miss the latest and brilliant offering from this giant of contemporary art.
Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla is on at White Cube Bermondsey until 12th February 2017
All photographs ©The London Art File
Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm
Sunday 12noon – 6pm
White Cube Bermondsey
144-152 Bermondsey Street
London SE1 3TQ
Information: 020 79305373 or www.whitecube.com