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The layered beauty of Aurora

July 7, 2017

"What interests me is the transformation, not the moment," German artist Anselm Kiefer said in relation to his current exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery on West 21st Street, New York. The show brings together a large collection of Kiefer's works, including a number of watercolour paintings and sketches which offer a glimpse into a lighter side of his art.

 

Kiefer's art is known for its textural, sombre and multi-layered application. His impastos are dense with purpose – the purpose being to explore the tactility and boundaries of paint itself. But in this specific exhibition dark gives way to light, revealing a brand new landscape of texture and a new world-vision which is reliant on nature and beauty. There is indeed a transformation taking place, and it's most evident in one captivating painting. 

 

Cover image: Aurora, 2015-2017, oil, emulsion, acrylic, shellac, sediment of an electrolysis on canvas 

Aurora, 2015-2017, oil, emulsion, acrylic, shellac, sediment of an electrolysis on canvas, detail

 

Aurora – the dawn. A moment in time when nature itself transforms, when night falls into ruins and the sky's pigments battle it out for domination and permanence. In the painting itself, the night is represented by a deep, burnt stain creeping through the upper-central domain of an almost four-metre wide canvas. There is decay here – a substance as toxic as hot tar on a beach. But despite its solidity, this darkness yields and Kiefer reveals a repertoire of colour which is rare to his usual work. 

 

"Ruins are moments when things

show themselves. A ruin is not

a catastrophe. It is the moment

when things can start again."

Anselm Kiefer

Aurora, 2015-2017, oil, emulsion, acrylic, shellac, sediment of an electrolysis on canvas, detail

 

Kiefer is known to be a didactic artist, shedding light on the past and present terrors and taboos of our world. His art confronts his own culture's dark past in a big way – but this time there is a strong positive awakening, a sense of 'giving-in' to innocent goodness.

 

Just like the breaking of a new day, Aurora insists that after dark, there can be light; and that in turn light brings about life through nature. As a result we are looking at what could be today's version of Monet's lily ponds – a moment in time that captures our world. Kiefer insists that, now, it's impossible for us to look at nature without remembering the horror that exists in the world – but that dawn can triumph over the black, and that beauty is still very possible.

Anselm Kiefer – Transition from cool to warm is on display at the Gagosian Gallery at 522 West 21st Street, New York until the 14th July 2017. Entrance is free. 

READ: Instagram round-up: This week's nature inspired design

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