The exhibition offers a journey through the ten-year career path of Anish Kapoor (Bombay, 1954), from his early work where he begins to formulate his own language, until he achieves his own sculptural grammar, based on the contamination of issues from the field of painting and the psychology of perception. The limits of this exhibition are placed between the piece 1000 Names (1979-1980) and a selection of thirty-one other pieces with which he represented England in the 44th Venice Biennale (1990), this selection is similar to the one that can be seen at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
During the period covered by the exhibition, Kapoor gained recognition as being one of the leading representatives of the so-called New British Sculpture movement. This generation of artists, which includes Stephen Cox, Tony Cragg and Richard Deacon, are characterised by modernising presumptions of sculptures regarding means and materials, the result of which indicates a turn to the conceptual and post-minimal lyrical as a main aesthetic.
The aesthetic and theoretical foundations of Kapoor's pieces can be seen in this exhibition, based mainly on the value that he gives colour, materials and religion. In terms of colour and its use in the form of pigment, the artist takes up the notion developed by Yves Klein and argues that an expression of divinity comes from colour, pigment powder, and non-solid matter, as in Pot for Her (1985) or in Angel (1989). With this statement, the artist searches for his genealogy amongst the history of art and avoids justifying his actions with his Indian nationality. Kapoor defines himself as an transcultural artist and uses myths about the origin of the world and man - both Hindu and Western myths - for his works' storylines, where he deals with the representation of the idea of fertility, birth and death, through urns and multiple references to feminine imagery, like in Mother Mountain (1985) and Wound (1988).
Throughout the decade covered by this exhibition two types of materials are focused on: the use of pigments (on wooden frames and fibreglass) and stone (which he begins to incorporate from 1986). The change of material has not interfered in the exploration of a recurrent theme in Kapoor’s work: space. Quite the opposite, it has supposed a shift in his interest in this concept: of the place of the piece into its interior (recreated or bored through), to emphasise the emptiness as primeval darkness.
Given the layout and design of their sculptures, they often overlap into the installations, demonstrating the value he attaches to space, the place and scale inherent in his work. For Kapoor, the most important thing is to ensure that his work that is "self-generated", that is to say: that it is not marked by the manufacturing or creation process, that it has a place in the world and a name. Thus, the work takes an independent value beyond the artist's existence, because what matters is their contemplation. From there you can call the piece a ritual.
British Pavillion, XLIV Venice Biennale (May - September, 1990); Le Magasin, Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble (November 23, 1990 - January 19, 1991); Kunstverein Hannover (May 10 - June 15, 1991)
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Ignacio Gómez de Liaño
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What Are We Doing Here?
Alternative Spaces in Madrid at the Turn of the CenturyMuestras documentales, Biblioteca y Centro de Documentación