"I came to India already as a young boy with my parents, as they were very interested in Indian art and culture. Out of this developed a very intense relationship which had a deep influence on my art over many decades. I was totally anonymous as an artist in India for so long - therefore it is for me a very emotional moment to show my work in this country to the art public for the first time - last year in Mumbai and now in Delhi. And I do hope that I can give something back to this country of what I received.”
- Wolfgang Laib, October 2012
Vadehra Art Gallery is pleased to announce the solo exhibition of acclaimed artist Wolfgang Laib, which will take place between November 9 and December 17, 2012. The exhibition titled Passageway is Laib’s first exhibition in New Delhi, and is being organized by Vadehra Art Gallery in association with Institute for Foreign Relations (ifa), Stuttgart, and Goethe Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi, as part of the year of Germany in India titled “Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities”. It is in keeping with the Vadehra Art Gallery’s commitment to hold exhibitions by acclaimed international artists like Yoko Ono, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Bernd and Hilla Becher, among others, for Indian audiences.
Wolfgang Laib’s works are studies of form, colour and material. Over a career spanning 37 years, the artist has evolved his practice through subtle variations and reductions. His aesthetic is minimalist and symbolic, and derives from his strong conviction that life and art need to be approached from a holistic perspective.
Much of the artist’s inspiration comes from Eastern philosophy, with which he has had close contact since his childhood. In fact, Laib, who is trained in medicine, studied the hygiene conditions of drinking water at Athoor Block in Madurai for his doctoral dissertation. He has since maintained his relationship with the region by visiting it regularly and maintaining a studio there. The remaining time Laib stays confined to his village in southern Germany, where he collects pollen from his surroundings.
Laib’s practice concerns itself with exploring natural material such as beeswax, pollen, rice, stone etc. to create artworks that are tactile and draw strongly on archetypal associations. Passageway provides us with an overview of the acclaimed artist’s body of work. Apart from a suite of 12 new drawings, some key sculptural installations like I Am Not Here and Milkstone will be on view.
Laib began his career by exhibiting Milkstone in 1975. The work consists of a rectangular slab of polished marble with a shallow dent on top which is filled with milk. It references cleansing basins in mosques and also libations performed in Hindu temples. Another important work I Am Not Here (1997-99) consists of a series of large ships made of beeswax and elevated on stilts. The ships appear to be part of a procession, undertaking an age-old journey.
The exhibition will also include the highly acclaimed Pollen from Pine (1999) and Laib will be creating a larger version of this titled Pollen from Hazelnut at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, early next year.
Laib is also immersed in a very ambitious, long-term project here in India, which is to realize a monumental Brahmanda sculpture, around 60 feet long and 20 feet high, on the beautiful bare granite hill of Pulimalai, 40 kms northeast of Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The concept of Brahmanda, which translates as the egg of Brahma or the egg of the universe, is an old concept in Hindu religion and Indian philosophy dating back to at least 3000 years. In keeping with traditional practices of carving cave temples, a rectangular cube will be carved into the mountain with the Brahmanda sitting in the middle, giving the impression of emerging and being born out of the mountain.
About the Artist
Wolfgang Laib’s work has been exhibited extensively, beginning in 1982 with his participation in Documenta 7, Kassel, Germany. In 1986 his first official solo exhibition was held in the Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France. Laib has been the focus of major exhibitions in the Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany (1992), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1992), Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (1999/2000), the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. (2002), Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2002/03), Fondation Beyeler Riehen, Basel, Switzerland (2005/06), and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.
His most recent exhibitions have included the retrospective Without Place-Without Time-Without Body at the Musée de Grenoble, France, in the summer of 2008 and the critically acclaimed Wolfgang Laib: Fire Ritual held in the summer of 2009 at the Fondazione Merz in Turin, Italy. He was also the subject of major retrospectives in Latin America, including Pasotraspaso at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City in 2009 and Sin principio - sin fin, Museo Nacional de Arte de La Paz in Bolivia in 2010.
In early 2013, Wolfgang Laib’s Pollen from Hazelnut will inhabit the Museum’s Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium at MoMA, New York. He will also create the first permanently installed wax room in a museum at The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.