Vaporous patterns emerge, like imprints left by the dead, even in the utter blackness of seven burlap books whose hieroglyphics consist of oil, charcoal, and glue in Cauterization of the Rural District of Buchen (1975).
The schoolhouse Fisher escaped from was torn down; there is no hopeless memorial there now, just an empty field. Kiefer's hellish earth is burned, scarred, frozen, scorched — just like ours. Maybe not so much like ours, his blackened ground is fertile and regenerating and has reached the nigredo stage in an alchemical process leading toward something fabulous. Imagining that the destruction of the planet has led or will lead to a kind of regeneration is a kind of mental escape from the sociopaths currently molesting the globe and maybe even a necessary one. On the other hand, maybe now would be a good time to run. Despite his preoccupation with stars, Kiefer isn't ready to pack up the spaceship yet. Giving the title Faith, Hope, Love (1976) to a dense, dark, entangled work composed of ash, seeds, and ink may not be laugh-out-loud funny, but Kiefer's humor is rarely human scale. "Wherever you go, there you are" is the angelic message of his Milky Ways and charred landscapes, which are always also internal states.<\!s>
ANSELM KIEFER: HEAVEN AND EARTH
Through Jan. 21, 2007
Fri.–<\d>Tues., 11 a.m.–<\d>5:45 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.–<\d>8:45 p.m.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third St., SF
$7–<\d>$12.50 (free first Tues.; half price Thurs., 6–<\d>8:45 p.m.)