As the first living artist to land a solo show at the Royal Academy, Anish Kapoor’s self-appellated show is an incredibly daring, sensory, and truly contemporary display of the artist’s oeuvre and sculpture today.
Whilst you endure the overwhelming queues outside, the jagged tower of shiny metal spheres, Tall tree and the eye - a new sculpture provided for the exhibit - whets your appetite for the ensuing unctuous crimson wax and grey sludge and slither, spliced with wide concave and convex surfaces of mammoth distortion, and pigmented geometric sculptures of spicy radiance.
Sonorous, resonant, tactile and meditative, all seven sections have been well-conceived and organised to provide a thrilling, detailed survey without the need for interpretation boards and descriptive labels; this is an unusual relief, as otherwise the congested traffic of bodies would clog the galleries twenty-deep in trying to derive meaning from text on the walls, instead of concentrated study of the works themselves.
We are left to review, contemplate, and experience Kapoor’s works without institutional influence. The Royal Academy has lucked out in that this show amplifies its own merits, complexities, and matter without the need for detailed explanations; the experience is so directly interactive with the viewer that any elucidation would be prosaic. We can attach whatever meanings we like: abstract; intangible; feminist; a mess; revolutionary; easy; or profound. Your answer is not validated as right, and that is acceptable here – there is no canon to reference or adhere to.
Ubiquitous sculpture materials of plaster, stone, metal, concrete, and wood are transformed into biomorphic and geometric conquerors of space and senses. At once futuristic and eternal, Kapoor’s work displays the intricate intimacy and attentive investigation that he has undertaken in expanding the use and properties of these materials in creating matter that so regenerates and explores the excess point of three and two dimensional form and line.
Enjoyment is to be had and senses piqued by the beaming 1000 Names series of pigmented and dusty sculptures that emerge from the walls and floors; the incredible vortex of Yellow; and the large embracing curves of Hive.
Immutable discs of polished metal in bright polychromatic colours reflect and render our certain appearance as fluid alterations of long-faced, obese, stretched, or concaved others – extending the artist’s transforming hand through the portal of his works onto our bodies.
Dual climaxes of Svayambh (the sinister block of compressed blood-coloured wax on a train-track to nowhere) and Shooting into the Corner fill the galleries with excited talk in these often silent, hallowed academic spaces where now such anarchic installations actively make their radiant mark on the pristine white walls.
Far from being intimidating in its contemporary or conceptual content, this is a show where there truly is something for everyone, an exhibition that you could take any friend, date, or family member to and trade stimulating chatter of opinion.
This is an unmissable exhibition of the huge impact, celebrating the vital significance of sculpture as an essential discipline in today’s oversaturated, multi-media landscape. Go and experience a true ‘moment’ which will certainly challenge and revise your perception of contemporary art.