reviewUrban Sketching

The Seven Heavenly Palaces

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Hangar bicocca Anselm Kiefer The Seven Heavenly Palaces Anna Motterle Photography
Hangar bicocca Anselm Kiefer The Seven Heavenly Palaces Anna Motterle Photography
Photo by Anna Motterle 2014

There is a place that I love dearly in the city. It’s a place where I bring visitors when I know they have The Sight. In urban fantasy terms you could say it’s a Freehold. A place where faeries and magical creatures can go and recharge their Glamour, or magical energy.

But aside from my narrative vision of reality, it is itself a place of astounding silence and raw beauty.

 

My relationship with contemporary art is complex. I’m not really into the whole intellectual approach to it. I don’t like having to read a description to understand something.

Instead I like approaching contemporary art with a child’s eyes. If they widen up in wonder, then it’s good art.

Drawing in Hangar bicocca Anselm Kiefer The Seven Heavenly Palaces

When I first visited Hangar Bicocca, my eyes widened.

The space itself is huge, and black. I like how wide it is and, if you can avoid going at the weekend, how silence echoes in the large space.

The permanent installation by Anselm Kiefer has a whole booklet of explanations about whats and whys.

But my love for it is for the space itself. It’s like visiting another planet.

The staging has changed a bit over the years. At first the towers were surrounded by sand, and nothing else. And it was like looking from the outside into a pocket world.

Then they covered the sand with black plastic tiles, and you could walk around between the towers. It was like visiting an alien world. Or our own Earth after the apocalypse.

Then they put the sand back.

By now the tiles should have returned and they added new big paintings by the artist on the outside walls. I still don’t know how I feel about them.

Drawing in Hangar bicocca Anselm Kiefer The Seven Heavenly Palaces Anna Motterle Photography
Photo by Anna Motterle 2014

Every time I visit the towers of my alien kingdom, my freehold, I draw them. I have countless sketches of the towers, and prints, and pictures of me walking through them.

 

I could spend hours just sitting there. Listening to the emptiness of the space. Exploring that world with my eyes.
My eyes listen for the stories of that other world, and reality is less painful.

Drawing in Hangar bicocca Anselm Kiefer The Seven Heavenly Palaces
Melancholia

Practical tips for the sketcher:

  • The space is huge and clean enough to sit on the ground anywhere you want. But there aren’t many benches or chairs, so if you don’t like sitting on the ground, bring your own stool.
  • Hangar Bicocca it’s kind of buttfuck nowhere, but that’s part of its beauty. But since they opened the new subway station of PONALE it’s just a 10 minute walk.
  • There’s a nice cafe too, and you can find unique temporary exhibitions.
  • More info here