Anslem Kiefer at the Royal Academy III: Lapis Philosphorum

20141017 Anselm Keiffer at the RA (8)

Lapis philosphorum: the gold and blue of the virgin’s cowl descend.  To the left there is a busyness of rushes and to the right these open out to reveal a pool of water.  There is no balance in this philosophical discourse, rather a rock is weighed by the deformation of metal.

This is a piece created, I think, specifically for the RA in 2013, and is striking for the heavy gold leaf overlaying blue at the top and the sculpture projecting in front of the flat image.

Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy II: Operation Sea Lion

20141017 Anselm Keiffer at the RA (1)

This was how I reacted to Kiefer’s painting that reflected on the sea landing and invasion of the British Isles, planned for 1941 but never executed.

The serried ranks of forward facing, hopeful faces like rows of houses in the city, surtopped by the high cranes of the three chairs against the deep blue sky.  The tin ships battle in the bath but behind, on the horizon, the city burns.

The sketch was made in a couple of minutes facing the painting and finished from memory on the train home.  It is not intended to represent this monumental work (how could I do that?) but record my feelings and impressions in the moment.


Anselm Keifer at the Royal Academy I

20141017 Anselm Keiffer at the RA (5)

The giant canvas the Orders of the Night shows tall sunflowers silhouetted above the corpse of the artist.  This dominated my view at the Royal Academy even when seen from afar through a series of arches.

20141017 Anselm Keiffer at the RA (9)

The gallery is open late on a Friday night.  It was busy.  Although a large group of herded students all carried sketchpads and one or two others made brief written notes, I felt very exposed as the only person with the cheek to draw in this temple of art.

I had first heard of Alselm Kiefer through an art workshop a couple of years ago.  This led to my making a piece We Must Leave as a conscious exercise using Kiefer’s approaches to materials, political statement and the incorporation of words within the image.