11 September–31 October 2015
Gallery night: Wednesday, 16 September, 6–9pm
We congratulate Wolfgang Laib for receiving the 2015 Praemium Imperiale for sculpture!
The Buchmann Gallery is delighted to present a series of new beeswax sculptures by Wolfgang Laib (b. 1950 in Metzingen, Germany), which the artist created this summer in his studio.
Positioned on a wall bracket that spans the entire breadth of the room, these small objects made of fragrant, golden-yellow beeswax have a sensuous and very compelling presence. Each object is hand-shaped using 5cm slabs of beeswax. The concentration and purity of the natural material gives the sculptures a serene beauty and a certain sacrosanctity.
Wolfgang Laib succeeds in transcending the pure form—for instance a ziggurat—to imbue each piece with an auratic presence. The pieces have an astonishing power, particularly if one considers that it takes around 150,000 bees to produce one kilogram of beeswax. Since ancient times, humans have used beeswax for myriad purposes: cult objects and grave goods shaped of beeswax have been found in the tombs of the pharaohs, and beeswax writing tablets, amulets and sculptures are known to have been used in antiquity.
Alongside the wax sculptures, Wolfgang Laib has also created two bright yellow mountains of hazelnut pollen, collected by the artist himself, which complement the wax sculptures on the shelf. The potentiality of these works is vast, and it extends far beyond the empirical. One is reminded of Wolfgang Laib’s famous work Die fünf unbesteigbaren Berge / The Five Mountains Not to Climb on (1984), which comprises five mountains of pollen in a row. Wolfgang Laib continually shifts and dissolves the scales of large and small.
The Museum of Modern Art New York honoured Wolfgang Laib’s singular and deeply engaging work with one of the artist’s large pollen installations in 2013; the museum’s collection also includes a large beeswax room.