The flat-footed march of nouns that serve as titles for recent sculptures by Anish Kapoor are attached to artworks that leap into the idyllic realm of the sublime. Bridge, Spire, Blade, Carousel, and Sack escape their mundane associations by pursuing the visionary path that was cleared in the last century by Constantine Brancusi, Piet Mondrian, Kasimir Malevich, and other painters and sculptors for whom the prosaic world inspired the creation of extraordinary idealizations.
Kapoor exploits the inherent aesthetic qualities of the earth’s varied substances to achieve his non-material goal. Over the course of his thirty-year long career, he has elicited this rarified experience from such materials as translucent alabaster, reflective stainless steel, opaque fiberglass, clear resin, and absorbent pigment. Unlike the generations of sculptors who sculpted the illusion of life by making marble assume the supple qualities of flesh, Kapoor creates works that never relinquish their material identities. Instead, his masterful manipulations mutate the dimensional aspects of matter. Mass vaporizes. Size expands. Texture dissolves. Color radiates. Solids appear to be hollow. Space inhabits mass.
These wondrous perceptual deceptions are not only achieved with diverse materials, they occur at a remarkable range of scales. Standing knee high and lying prone on the floor, the sculpture Double (2004) takes the form of a teardrop that is mirrored twice: once through the surface reflections of its stainless steel body and once through the duplication of the two identical forms that are joined—in Siamese fashion—at their points. The sculpture Whiteout (2004) stands tall in front of the viewer; by bending into subtle, undulating curves, its cubic form escapes the rigidity of geometry and acquires the vitality of spirit. Carousel (2004) is an architecturally scaled work that plays visual tricks on the viewer by combining a polished, reflective outer surface with a painted, muted interior, evoking dimensionless spatial expanses both within and without. The reflective outer part resisting visual absorption, while the but I wasn’t sure how the interior consumes visualization. However, I don’t mean to oversimplify your idea. Let’s see what we can come up with). MarsyasThe uncommon viewing of a Kapoor sculpture entails the luminous, liminal, and the unlimited. Kapoor has claimed that his aim is to separate the object from its object-hood. He frequently states that his work offers a descent into limbo. (2002) is an example of sculpture on a superhuman scale, a triumphant work that once filled the vast cavity of Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Levitating off the floor, morphing from giant bulges to tight constrictions, it glows with deep red visceral hues. At all these disparities of scale, the artist gains entry into the viewer’s psychic space by diverting normal perceptual functions. Normal viewing locates experience in space, orients it to gravity, and monitors it within time.
Beginning his investigation in the 1980s, Kapoor has retained his focus on undulating abstract sculptures, but he has expanded his material choices. His early works, such as 1,000 Names, 1979-1980 were covered with brilliant, matt, powdered pigments. Their supersaturated colors emitted mysterious, glowing auras. When he introduced reflective surfaces in the mid nineties, the emphasis shifted from the sensual realm toward the ethereal. Viewers can observe themselves inverted, enlarged, diminished, duplicated, and misshapen. Rupturing the correlation between bodily sensations and visual perceptions manifests two states of being: the ordinary and the visionary. Although the word “biomorphic” is often summoned to describe his sculptures, these works celebrate the will to form that originates in the human imagination, not plant or animal organisms. Indeed, all worldly references are ultimately treated to a process of inspired idealization. His sculptures are invested with disquieting, unnatural stillness. Although their latent energies never erupt, neither do they acquiesce to Kapoor’s tidy formulations. Their psychic voltage is not merely a product of the sculpture’s mass, but also of the artist’s manipulation of space and time. Time is extended by the reveries that he evokes, while space is expanded by the deep abysses and endless reflections he constructs. Because there are no observable traces of their manufacture, these sculptures seem to be more evolved than constructed, more the product of a universal law than a human impulse. Such transcendentalism can be traced to the facts of his biography. Born in Bombay to a Jewish mother and Hindu father, Kapoor himself practices Buddhism. The merging of these diverse cultural heritages has allowed him to explore devotion abstracted from specific religious content. Kapoor joins the legacy of artists who prepare artistic space for ethereal recitals by clearing the psychic stage of mundane associations and investing it with mystery and wonder.