A day off work to finally get to see the Anselm Kiefer exhibition at the Royal Academy ( fitting in a few more exhibitions at National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery for good measure). Amazing, monumental and thought provoking. After starting with a display of books, the 'Attic' paintings are powerful and I love how the wood grain effects are continued throughout his work - the woodblock prints used in the 'forest' of the last room (below) were fantastic.
The materials he uses are diverse : straw, mud, sunflowers and seeds and they have meaning for him. The way he uses lead is fascinating - I particularly liked the books 'under the linden ' and large pieces studded with diamonds were just magical in how they caught the light.
The pieces that I spent most time with were in room 5: ' sands from the urns' (below) based on the clay brick ziggurats of Mesopotamia. Hand -pressed mud was used for clay tablets and bricks and he is quoted as perceiving " a secret connection between writing and building" wondering whether bricks , like tablet, could hold memories of people , of events, of time.
I was reminded of our visit to Syria almost exactly ten years ago, visiting Ugarit , Dura Europas and Mari , in awe of being somewhere where the ancient past is tangible and hugely saddened by what's happening there now .
Ziggurats of Pastries in Hama
After treating myself to a delicious lunch at Savoir Faire, I headed off to the National Gallery to see the 2 very different seascape inspired displays. I've long admired the dramatic paintings of Maggi Hambling but I was rather disappointed with these 'Walls of Water' . Lots of lively marks and use of paint but for me all pattern and lacking in content and composition. Her monotypes on this theme like they might be more interesting
Whereas the paintings by Peder Balke were far more inspiring especially the smaller sketches. I liked how often the waves were suggested quite simply - it looked like he might have used a painting knife in a similar way as demonstrated by Susan Gray on my Slapton painting courses.
On my way home I popped into the National Portrait Gallery next door to see the Grayson Perry exhibit ' Who are you' .
You could hardly get near his 'self portrait' City of Days for people staring intently and giggling. Complex, funny and profound, like the Reith lectures and 'Tomb of the The Unknown Artist'.
The 'comfort blanket' a tapestry in the shape of a bank note was witty but the most powerful pieces were the ceramics displayed among the Gallery's collections
I spent a lot of time in front of the beautiful yet disturbing 'Memory jar', representing memories torn into shards through Alzheimers.