Among the many artists who have broached the motifs and themes of alchemy, Anselm Kiefer (born 1945) is pre-eminent in his concern with the transformation of earthly elements such as oil, straw, lead, mercury, stone, metal, rust and mud. Alkahest documents the artist’s latest series of both monumental and smaller paintings, as well as sculptures, which explore the titular alchemical term. Kiefer defines the term and his uses of it thus: “’Alkahest’ signifies that there is a solution which can dilute any substance. Dilution is of course something very important for me. I often lay pictures on the floor and pour water over them, or pour on water that has paint dissolved in it. So I’m exposing them to dilution.” Alkahest features color reproductions of the series as well as a poem by Christopher Ransmayr.
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