Exhibitions > 2011 > passageway

The Rice Meals, 1998, brass plates, rice, pollen of hazelnut 25 x 660 cm (surface area)


Wolfgang Laib finds spirituality in the simplicity of everyday, organic substances—milk, pollen, beeswax, rice—that provide sustenance or engender life.  

In 1975 Laib created his first Milkstone in what has become an ongoing series of elemental sculptures. A rectangular block of polished white marble containing a slight depression on its upper surface, the piece is filled with a thin layer of milk to foster the illusion of a solid form.

While Laib’s work may rely on materials sourced from nature, his art emphasizes their experience in the neutral confines of a gallery – disconnected from their original environment.  The brilliantly pigmented pollen in the jar is as much a work of art as it is spread on the floor, or molded into cones, as in The Five Mountains Not To Climb. Though intimate in scale and intensely fragile, this hazelnut pollen sculpture alludes to the monumentality suggested by its title. The notion that there is infinitude in the infinitesimal is beautifully manifest in Laib's spare but highly aesthetic practice.

‘passageway’ at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke and Chemould Prescott Road in Mumbai also includes other important works by the artist such as the installation of seven beeswax ships which bear the title of the exhibition, the black lacquer ‘Stairs’, and a suite of twelve new oil pastel drawings.    


Laib's work has been exhibited extensively, beginning in 1982 with his participation in documenta 7.  In 1986 his first solo exhibition was held in the Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris. Laib has been the focus of major exhibitions in the Kunstmuseum, Bonn (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 (2002/3), Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2005/06) and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid. His recent exhibitions have included the retrospective Without Place-Without Time-Without Body at the Musée de Grenoble, France in 2008 and the critically acclaimed Wolfgang Laib: Fire Ritual, held in 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. His recent show in Chicago was held at the college of the Art Institute in October 2011. In 2013 he is exhibiting his work in the atrium of the MOMA, New York.

Wolfgang Laib lives and works in Germany.