Wir Fahren Aus (We're off)
Jay Jopling has done well to secure two of Germany's post war titans to his roster. Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer, seven years his junior at 71, represent painters and artists still capable of creating vital seismic work. There are gargantuan canvases here exploring in numbing repetition the harsh realities of ageing and the acceptance of mortality's inevitability. Both artists are seen as weighty, serious and moody but like laughter in the dark there is a subtle playfulness on display in these huge works that challenges that stance.
Baselitz has been painting his figures upside down since the later 1960s; here the forms are of his ageing self and wife. There is a tenderness shown, clearly evident in the proximity of the bodies but there is also something decrepit that I imagine is taken differently by the varying generations viewing these pieces. To a younger viewer these forms, gestures and poses may appear more grotesque and less idealised but to an older eye there is an accumulative knowledge in the rehashing of the image.
Night after night, if we are lucky, we settle down on the same bed with the same partner and though there may not be great excitement in this act after many years or decades there is great comfort. It is how the world is for Baselitz and as such how he depicts it.
One sculpture's high heeled legs reach up to the ceiling, characteristic of a motif employed many times before. Another vast 3D bronze work cast from roughly hewn wood lies horizontal - depicting the intertwined bodies we see all around the walls in each of the many galleries; physical love, despite the seniority of its constituents. This may be a theme or reality that the immature would not wish to dwell on but it serves the more open and hopeful as a reminder that a partnership can work for long after the skin has wrinkled or flesh starts to sag.
http://whitecube.com/exhibitions/georg_baselitz_bermondsey_2016/ until 3rd July