New YorkAnish Kapoor
Lisson Gallery presents an exhibition in New York with Anish Kapoor, one of the most celebrated artists of his generation.
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Having represented Kapoor since 1982 – and held seventeen exhibitions of his work across London and Milan – this is Lisson Gallery’s first exhibition with Kapoor in the United States. This dual exhibition of new works extends to both New York spaces, showing new and recent sculptures, both wall-based and freestanding. This exhibition follows recent shows this Spring: at Lisson Gallery and Pitzhanger Manor, London, and at Fundación CorpArtes, Chile.
Kapoor redefined contemporary sculpture in the 1980s through innovative approaches to scale, color, volume and materiality, and by delving into the illusory. Perhaps most famous for public sculptures that are both adventures in form and feats of engineering, Kapoor’s works invite viewers to interrogate their relation to inhabited space. Whether through a seemingly infinite black hole or an impossible reflection, Kapoor confronts our expectation of optical perception, forcing a re-examination of one’s phenomenological experience.
One of the defining languages of Kapoor’s oeuvre is indisputably his manipulation of space, and the mirrored surface as a material in this endeavor can be seen internationally through his major public commissions. These highly reflective works combine a painterly subtlety with a powerful monumentality, contrasting the stillness of a flawlessly polished surface with an ever-oscillating echo of its environment. A major new mirror work, Tsunami (2018), sits at the core of the Lisson Gallery exhibition. This large-scale, mesmerizing sculpture derives its form from the projection of a circle onto an hourglass, a historic symbol connected to the sign of infinity and the endless time of a Möbius strip. These intertwining curvatures come together into a seamlessly fluid shape, wondrously transcending the boundaries of volume, and capturing a metaphorical infinity within its surface. The raised edge of the sculpture invites the audience to gaze into a self-reflecting void where their reflection descends into an ambiguous limitless space. The area beneath the sculpture becomes, like in many of Kapoor’s works, a negative one, a void. Simultaneously dominating the terrain and dissolving into it, this massive form hovers gracefully on the ground at two precise points, miraculously poised and balanced.
The title, Tsunami, conjures awe, referencing an ominous, powerful force that appears as if from nowhere. Kapoor invites the viewer to not simply look at the object, but through and beyond it, invoking both terror and beauty, and questioning absence and presence in the face of the force of nature. Since the Romantic conception of the sublime, artists such as Caspar David Friedrich have expressed the sensation of wonder evoked by the natural landscape. Unlike Friedrich, Kapoor’s stainless steel works gaze back at you, existentially reflecting the self.
Alongside this, Kapoor exhibits a new series of mirrors, playfully teasing the viewer’s perception of empirical reality by shifting between concave and convex. The concavity functions by projecting the focal point of the reflected image in front of the plane of the mirror, appearing as if its reflection has burst through the window. The effect of this cognitive dissonance has poetic and philosophical potential as the viewer confronts their own process of looking.
The exhibition also coincides with Kapoor’s major two-part show in Beijing, opening November 10 at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Imperial Ancestral Temple by the walls of the Forbidden City.
Anish Kapoor is one of the most influential sculptors of his generation. Kapoor manoeuvres between vastly different scales, across numerous series of work. Immense PVC skins, stretched or deflated; concave or convex mirrors whose reflections attract and swallow the viewer; recesses carved in stone and pigmented so as to disappear: these voids and protrusions summon up deep-felt metaphysical polarities of presence and absence, concealment and revelation. Forms turn themselves inside out, womb-like, and materials are not painted but impregnated with colour, as if to negate the idea of an outer surface, inviting the viewer to the inner reaches of the imagination. Kapoor’s geometric forms from the early 1980s, for example, rise up from the floor and appear to be made of pure pigment, while the viscous, blood-red wax sculptures from the last ten years – kinetic and self-generating – ravage their own surfaces and explode the quiet of the gallery environment. There are resonances with mythologies of the ancient world – Indian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman – and with modern times.
Anish Kapoor was born in Mumbai, India in 1954 and lives and works in London. He studied at Hornsey College of Art, London, UK (1973–77) followed by postgraduate studies at Chelsea School of Art, London, UK (1977–78). Recent solo exhibitions include CorpArtes, Santiago, Chile (2019); Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery, London, UK (2019); Serralves Museum, Porto, Portugal (2018); ‘Descension’’ in collaboration with Public Art Fund at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1, New York, NY, USA (2017); Parque de la Memoria, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2017); MAST Foundation, Bologna, Italy (2017); Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City, Mexico (2016); Couvent de la Tourette, Eveux, France (2015); Château de Versailles, France (2015) and The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, Moscow, Russia (2015). He represented Britain at the 44th Venice Biennale in 1990 with Void Field (1989), for which he was awarded the Premio Duemila for Best Young Artist. Kapoor won the Turner Prize in 1991 and has honorary fellowships from the University of Wolverhampton, UK (1999), the Royal Institute of British Architecture, London, UK (2001) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford, UK (2014). Anish Kapoor was awarded a CBE in 2003 and a Knighthood in 2013 for services to visual arts. Large scale public projects include Cloud Gate (2004) in Millennium Park, Chicago, USA , Orbit (2012) in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, UK, and Ark Nova (2013) the world’s first inflatable concert hall, created to travel to regions of Japan affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Installation view of Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery, New York, 31 October – 20 December 2019 © Anish Kapoor. Courtesy Lisson Gallery
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