Niamh Conneely Anish Kapoor, Royal Academy London, 26 September 11 December 2009 The spectacle of Anish Kapoor mid
-career retrospective begins before you pass through the doors of Burlington House. Enticing us through the arches of the RA s courtyard, Tall Tree and The Eye, a 15-metre column made of 75 mirror-spheres, bubbles up through the open air space. Each reflects a different viewpoint of the impressive architecture, amazing and dwarfing us simultaneously. Though it stands 15 metres tall it its seamless construction allows it to appear weightless, delicate and fragile. We see ourselves both reflected and lost within them, being forced into a state of contemplation, a tone which is common throughout this exhibition. The show begins with Kapoor s signature sculptures, 100 names 1979-80, covered in gesso and powdered pigment. Having seen these pieces before I hadn t expected to have such a keen interest, yet the intense colours and forms still managed to arouse my senses, transporting me to Kapoor s birthplace, Mumbai. I was however somewhat disappointed in the shiny circular white plinths the sculptures were grouped on. Previously the pieces seemed beautifully organic to me, the dusted pigment on bare floor creating the illusion of grown and germination. The plinths left them somewhat lacking. Exiting the room I am completely saturated in Yellow 1999. The six square metre fibreglass disc smothered in 12 coats of yellow paint is all consuming. It completely floods the viewers vision, I feel almost swallowed in the womb like form and enticing hue. I am diminished and miniaturized in its enveloping radiance, my eyes struggling to find an end to the yellow pit.
On low pallets. Having been drawn and made with the aid of a computer controlled piping machine. worm casts and piles of dung. of drooping and warping which adds a much needed degree of interest. There is stark contrast with the industrial form juxtaposed to the traditional architecture of the building. this intestinal form has the potential to contort and thrash at any moment. Perhaps it is the lack of wow factor in this series but I find an awful sameness in each of the dowdy. momentarily frozen in time as we view it. one immediately notices the rust and tarnish against the well polished cornices of the gallery. invading your personal space and forcing you to react to it. These squirming piles evoke ideas of entrails. By contrast. the piece confronts you head on. You feel as though you are in a sensory vacuum. manages to turn the space inside out. repetitive towers.Greyman Cries. Beauty Evoked 2008-09 is the title of Kapoor s new series of sculptures. As these crates are somewhat overlapping we are forced to tentatively move around. there is the idea of the infinite and the cloned. Although somewhat still it is my no means peaceful. Shaman Dies. This series of work is a radical departure from the highly finished and polished surfaces of much of Kapoor s other work. a large series of sculptures crowd the room. Hive 2009 has been made and installed especially for the Royal Academy. Its writhing form seems to have grown sporadically around the gallery. made up of mounds of piped concrete varying subtly in girth. forcing our eyes to contemplate the surrounding space. choosing our own path around the sculptures.
. The blatantly oversized sculpture relishes in this classic space. This corton steel giant some ten metres high. Billowing Smoke. height and shape. yet the material used has allowed for some kind of degradation. Untitled 2009 is a new but far more effective departure for Kapoor. The stark red almost wet mouth adds to the uncomfortable tone the sculpture sets.
Shooting in the Corner is the gallery-goers version of cinematic special effects. wax and Vaseline just squeezes its huge mass through the five galleries of the Academy. The twittering gallery explodes with the sound of the 9kg cylindrical wax bullet being fired at the opposing wall landing with a hefty thud splattering the increasingly wax filled walls. Sanskrit for selfgenerated. Although we live in a world of bright images and vivid colours. As the silent giant creeps closer. For me the piece is not about how it s made. The 40 tons of red paint. Taking an hour and a half to complete one journey through the galleries creates a real tension in the space.
I came across Svayambh 2007. Some may bash this piece as a simple crowd pleaser and a spectacle. the severe sensory purity of the saturation of a single colour is a real visual treat. It seems to create time.
. from a distance staring down the long silent track as though willing a home bound train to arrive. Kapoor s sculptures are more than often striking. pleasing the masses does not always have to mean an artist has forgone tact. The illusion of a complete block of wax is effective. leaving a splattered residue in its wake. but how it makes you feel. by slowing down every person which views it. Somewhat ritualistically.The essence of Shooting into the Corner 2008-09 is very much in the performance. and its finish. every 20 minutes an attendant loads the canon of the pneumatic compressor in front of an amassed crowed quivering with excitement. though we know structurally there must be a support system. It is produced with Kapoor s signature preciseness and carried out with class and sophistication. but I see nothing wrong in this. sensory and spectacular. surface pleasure opens up deep thought. quiet and sublime. In my case. contemplative.
it whispers it does not shout. There is something for everyone. explore the endless possibilities of sculpture. it offered both spectacle and quiet reverence with stunning finish and elegance. I for one find his more quiet pieces more sculpturally sound. However. Kapoor has become more of a public than a private artist. believers and nonbelievers alike. His work inspires awe in the large numbers of people who flock to see it. The small dusted pieces. On whole.Over his career. without grandstanding. the exhibition was an entertaining journey of the senses. a gentle swelling of a pristine white wall stood out for me in the exhibition. this piece showcases the talent and tentative intelligent thought of Kapoor. Meticulously made and understated. the concavities and protuberances as well as the public mega-sculptures. When I am pregnant 1992.