Anish Kapoor's first ever exhibit in India at the National Gallery of Modern Art is both a celebration of an artist of Indian origin who has won many international accolades as well as an attempt to introduce this renowned figure to audiences with whom he shares kinship but who are hardly aquainted with him. Mostly known for his collosal projects, this exhibition includes a showcase for Kapoor's project models, some of his earlier work with pigments and his recent work with wax and mirrors. Kapoor's practice deals not with meaning but with experience and form. The outstanding quality of Kapoor's work is that through this combination of architecture and sculpture the artist’s work doesn't seem to occupy space but creates them anew. He manifests spaces through voids. These voids create new spaces and surfaces of experience that echo, resonate, and reorient the viewer’s sense of perception.
To Reflect an Intimate Part of the Red (1981) is a study of pure form and colour. The use of colour pigment to form basic spherical and triangular shapes in red and yellow is reminiscent of mounds of colour arranged for sale in an Indian market. Kapoor thus captures this preparatory stage of art production. He puts the preparation--the raw pigment and shap--on display, bringing to attention the elements that form the final composition of a work of art.
S-Curve (2006) uses stainless steel to form a reflecting surface in the shape of an 'S'. It could be a circus mirror except it does not contort one’s own figure but the objects behind. As one moves along the curve of the long steel structure, one experiences objects and the background running away from oneself. This experience is both uncanny and disorienting. The work of art directly engages the vision of the viewer in a game of visuality, perception and representation.
Past, Present, Future (2006) is a half sphere of wax and oil-based red paint jutting out of the wall created by an arc that slowly swings 180 degrees. The wax splashed on the walls, carelessly, gives the area the look of a work in progress with unfinished edges and rough surfaces. The piece is at once identifiable as a globe jutting out of the wall and the blood red colour connects to birth and everything earthen and elemental.
Somewhere in the making of these gaps and gashes on land and other surfaces there is perhaps a search for the centre, as in Kapoor's mirrors that dupe and bewilder the naked eye. The contortion, distortion and destruction seems to be working towards a search for a core, a beginning. Art stripped of its frills, sprawled out, not contained within physical frames or frames of reference creates limitless and ever-changing meanings. Kapoor's art elicits a metaphysical experience that produces experiential space and time that has a very feminine subjectivity. Kapoor's work does not require a prelude, it is experienced, its echo felt within you long after you've left that gallery space.
-- Manjari Kaul
(All images courtesy of the National Gallery of Modern Art and the artist.)