Rice Houses, 2007. Black and red Indian granite, sunflower oil, black smoke, ghee, and cinnabar, two elements 17 x 12 x 76 and 16 x 8 x 46 cm.

Time-Existence-Space: A Conversation with Wolfgang Laib

It is a hot day in southern Germany. The floor of Wolfgang Laib’s studio is covered with recent works soon to be shipped to New York for what will be his first exhibition at the Sean Kelly Gallery. “It usually doesn’t look like this here. Normally the room is pretty empty,” he says. Through the high windows, you can see the meadows of Upper Swabia, where, year after year, the artist collects pollen from dandelions and buttercups. In the 1980s, Laib achieved international renown with his pollen works and milkstones, flat slabs of marble intended to hold poured milk in their slightly concave surfaces. We cross the meadow to the wax room. Due to the heat, Laib can only open the room for a few minutes. Inside, the chamber offers an unbelievably intense experience that engages all of the senses: the golden-yellow color of the wax on the ceiling and walls, the coolness of the shaft that extends 13 meters into the earth, the loud echo that causes you to whisper immediately, as well as the infatuating scent of the beeswax.