Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Anish Kapoor

Having seen only two Anish Kapoor sculptures before (that I can remember), but liked both a lot, I went to the Royal Academy exhibition. There is something very mentally spacious about going to an exhibition where there are really only seven or eight exhibits, albeit some of them groups of pieces.

Working from my least favourite upwards, and with almost no reference to the proper names of the pieces nor to any proper artistic analysis:

1. Extruded concrete - no, I am just not feeling it. Too scatological. Lacking the visual and tactile pleasures of the other work somehow. Though there are a few small pieces that have fallen off, which you might be tempted to pick up if the guards aren't watching. No-one will believe you if you try to sell them on ebay though, they just don't look impressive.

2. Fibreglass 'marble' coils with shiny red trumpet / vulva - mildly intriguing, but not very.

3. Hall of mirrors. Ok they don't call it that, but that's what it is - very shiny and nicely done. Not nearly as much fun as the stack of mirrored balls in the courtyard which have sky and buildings to play with.

4. Crimson wax - monumental block which moves along a track. carving itself out against the arches of three galleries, + the cannon which shoots cyclinders of the same wax through a doorway every 20 minutes. It is great to have something in a gallery that moves and that you can return to and see in a different way each time. And these are undeniably powerful pieces. After seeing the cannon shoot, people make pointless comments like 'Well, there you go' and 'We've seen the splodging machine now we can move on'. It is obvious that this is because at least some of them are deeply unsettled.
The wax isn't actually like anything in the body as such, but is undeniably visceral when splattered or spread. Whether by accident or design, the person 'firing' the cannon when I was there was profoundly androgynous, dressed in overalls with a poker face, very pale and thin. This added somehow to the sense of violence. Even so, I found the moving block (about the size of a double decker bus - ish) harder to take. There is something about the way it completely moulds onto the arches as it moves through them which makes it harder to breathe, and makes me want to consume things that are good for my arteries. It has all the uneasiness of seeing inside someone, or of deep sea creatures, writ large.

5. The hive - rusting (or rust-coloured, though smooth) monumental shape, open at one end to allow a glimpse of the enclosed space at the other. Everything about this was pleasing to me - scale, tactile appearance, the lines that follow its curves where it has been made (whereas many of Kapoor's sculptures have had the signs of making deliberately removed), the fact that it was made in a shipyard, the fact that it is suggestive without being red! It is everything that number 2 was not.

6. Yellow - a giant, sunny, optical illusion. I have a deep desire to climb inside it.

7. The room of pregnancy and powder paint - the paint is pleasing, the way it gives a saturated, soft colour. The pregnant wall, however, is by far the best thing in the whole show (bit of a shame this is actually the first room). You barely notice it at first, in a room full of colourful things. You look at it from the side, and it's a clearly delineated bulge, full of promise. You look from the front, about a meter away, and you just can't see anything properly at all. It is utterly mysterious. Somehow, the curve and the shadow mean that you can't focus on the texture of the white wall itself, you just get a kind of blurry glow. I could look at it all day, except it makes my eyes go funny.

No comments: