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Although aware of Kiefer, I had never really followed his work until asked to visit the show. My initial response was to write about a particular piece which I would like to share.
'The Sand from The Urns'
Acrylic, oil, shellac, sand on canvas
owned by The White Cube
size approximately 30 feet wide by 10 feet high, but this is a guess
You can't sit too close to this work. I'm not institively drawn to call it a painting as my background is too conventional.
I feel as though I am driving passed a mirage of a tomb in Afghanistan, tracks run diagonally across the sand on the canvas. My first instinct is to ask is, how? My immediate second is to reach out and touch it. The work draws me in, draws me closer, but I keep my toes inside the line.
The materials are caked on, pressed against eachother whilst the image emerges as though scratched along the surface, deep into the canvas. The uniformity of the colour and tone renders the work uncomfortable to the eye, almost blinding, so much so you can't engage with it for too long.
I feel as though I am surrounded by sand. The horizon is hard to decifer and yet is is definitely present.
Seated 20 feet away I could view it in its entirety and yet there was still no focal point.
Practical questions flooded my brain.
How is his work transported?
How is it physically hung?
How will this be preserved for future generations?
Does Kiefer even want it to be preserved?
I spent too little time at this exhibition so I intend to return, rent the audio guide so as to gain a better understanding.
But as Rachel Cooke suggests in her Observer review on 28 September 2014
". . . mystification is half the point. No artist puts this much effort into the construction of their work without wanting their audience to linger over it, to try and fathom it out." *
I do hope some of my questions will be answered.
It may remove some of the mystery but I do believe it's a useful and interesting tool to see how a painting is built up, layer upon layer. This is how an artist would ensure the work's conservation / preservation / longevity, by being taught how to apply the paint correctly in the first place.
I'm a bore, I know! Lol! but we should be teaching this skill. Nag nag nag. So here I share one of my favourite paintings (of mine......blow my own trumpet, but this took me ages and I enjoyed every minute of its development).