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Delhi, Mumbai
New Delhi, 27 November 2010
Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the NAC today inaugurated Anish Kapoor’s first ever exhibition in India. The exhibition is being held at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi and at Mehboob Studios in Mumbai. This is the biggest exhibition of Anish Kapoor’s work ever shown overseas.

The exhibition is being presented by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and National Gallery of Modern Art India, British Council and Lisson Gallery, in association with Louis Vuitton and the Tata Group.

Kapoor’s unique style and Indian heritage have combined to make him one of the most engaging and distinctive artists in the world and the exhibition will be the first ever showcase of his work in the country of his birth. The exhibition will be organised over two sites in New Delhi and Mumbai and is the largest and most ambitious exhibition project ever to be presented. It features work and sculptures spanning the breadth of the artist’s career, from his early pigment-based sculptures of the 1980s to his most recent works in polished steel and in wax.

The exhibitions will be displayed in two venues: the newly renovated NGMA, New Delhi (Anish Kapoor show will be the first major exhibition to be held in the gallery’s newly constructed Exhibition Hall); and the Mehboob Studios, Bandra, Mumbai. Each exhibition will focus on a different strand of Kapoor’s practice, with each show complementing the other to form an overall picture of the diversity and energy within his oeuvre. Both exhibitions will feature works which were included in the recent, record-breaking exhibition of Kapoor’s work at the Royal Academy, London, which attracted over 275,000 visitors in less than three months.

“I am delighted that what we had been dreaming of for the past nine years has finally come to fruition. The Kapoor exhibition is one of the largest projects we have done since the Picasso exhibition in 2001, not just in its scale of the actual works, but also in terms of the international stature of the artist, including partnerships amongst various organisations, and its outreach,” Prof. Rajeev Lochan, Director of the NGMA said.

Ruth Gee, Regional Director British Council says, “We are delighted to have played a part in creating this milestone exhibition in Delhi and Mumbai. It is a proud moment in our cultural relationship with India”.

The Anish Kapoor exhibitions will coincide with the India Art Summit, which runs from 20-23 January 2011, and attracts approximately 40,000 visitors annually.

Smt. Sonia Gandhi's inaugural address

List of works

To reflect an intimate part of the red 1981,
mixed media and pigment,
200 x 800 x 800 cm

As an art student Anish Kapoor made assemblages, did performances and drew on the floor with chalk. In all this there was a fascination with the two-dimensional arts: with painting, but also tapestries, relief carving, calligraphy, and Persian carpets. In 1979, his studies complete, Kapoor made a three week trip back to India, where piles of raw pigment in markets, by roadside shines and doors to temples made a big impression. Back in his London studio, Kapoor began a series of drawings where red shapes were spangled across the paper, then used pure pigment to turn the motifs into three-dimensional forms. They are covered with a generous dusting of pigment, which spills onto the floor like a halo, radiating a powerful sense of that which is most forbidden in museums and galleries: touch.

To reflect an intimate part of the red draws a fuzzy line between abstraction and narrative. The shapes are rich in association (perhaps seed pod, breast, mosque dome or ziggurat), but they are not descriptive: Kapoor is pointing towards bigger ideas. It is as if the motifs in a Persian carpet have been brought to life, and emerge from the floor, like clues to something beyond. Spaced proportionally from each other, there is room for the eye to wander between the separate elements, and a necessity to walk around them. There is an emphasis on the spaces ‘in-between’.

Untitled 1992,
sandstone and pigment,
230 x 122 x 103 cm

Kapoor’s pigment works brought him immediate acclaim and by 1992 he was standing his ground as an artist on the international stage: besides exhibiting worldwide, he had been awarded the prestigious Turner Prize (London, 1990) and represented Britain at the 44th Venice Biennale (1991), where he won the Premio Duemila. By this time, the positive forms of the pigment pieces had begun to turn in on themselves and Kapoor had shifted from making multiple-element works to single objects. As with the red and yellow in To reflect an intimate part of the red, contrasts are key to this stone piece, primarily that between the raw sandstone frame and the crisp outline of the recess. Kapoor has filled the inner rectangular void with black pigment, making its depth immeasurable to the naked eye. So while the dimensions of the stone relate to upright man and to Britain’s ancient monoliths, the inscription also evokes the ancient Egyptian belief that Pharaohs would exit their tombs via false doors painted or carved on the inside of the sarcophagus. If sculptors deal with the presence of things in the world, and painters create two-dimensional illusions, Kapoor hovers in-between.

Iris 1998,
stainless steel,
200 x 200 x 200 cm

Illusion is central to Kapoor’s work. Just as the painted void can make stone seem to disappear, Kapoor’s mirrored objects use reflections to camouflage themselves in their environment and appear like holes in space. The supporting structure of Iris is concealed, so the convex mirror emerges effortlessly from the wall, like the eye as it appears in the face (with the rest of the eyeball secured invisibly in its socket). It indicates a continuation beyond the wall into which it is set. Iris is all-seeing: it reflects all its surroundings, distorting and reproducing them in miniature. The only place not visible is the patch it is placed on, mimicking the fact that eye locates the body in the world, but we can never truly see ourselves. Like an inverted security mirror, Iris has a destabilising effect.

S-Curve 2006,
stainless steel,
216.5 x 975.4 x 121.9 cm

From a bird’s eye view, S-Curve mirrors the curl of a question mark, and viewed straight-on, it confounds expectations. As with the pigment pieces, whose powder forms a kind of skin, so too the surface of the polished steel has a life of its own, different according to every exhibition space. Nonetheless, the distortions follow a pattern. Light travels in straight lines, and when it hits the concave hollows images are swallowed and flipped upside-down, while the convex bulges spit them back again. This echoes the mathematical model of the sculpture’s title, the sigmoid curve, where data is characterised by rapid acceleration at its mid-point. The suction between distortions also has the effect of making the solid object take on a liquid appearance. Unlike a hall of mirrors in a circus, this sleek, free-standing unit does not surround the viewer. Instead, it demands that the viewer walks around it, following the direction of the wave. Just taller than human height, it has a commanding presence.

Past, Present, Future 2006,
wax and oil-based paint,
345 x 89 x 445 cm

Where Iris and S-Curve question how we perceive exterior space, Kapoor now asks us to consider insides. If you close your eyes against the sun, you will see an intense red glow through your eyelids. From an eye-ball to the globe, in Past, Present, Future Kapoor returns to the colour red – the colour of flesh and blood, of India and indeed the earth. After years of making highly finished sculptures, this vast, messy piece is a bold gesture, using a gory mixture of wax, paint, petroleum jelly and thinners. Its form is created by its own movement: a sphere is shaped by an arc that slowly swings 180-degrees. Just as the early pigment pieces sprouted up from the floor, so too this grows within the body of the building, and like the powder on the floor, Past, Present, Future leaves traces of waxy stuff on the arc and adjacent walls. Although the working process seems to be on show, illusion is still at play. As with Iris, it seems that only a portion of the globe is visible, and it may only appear to be solid red all the way through. Such shapeshifting recalls Hindu mythology, where Gods can get what they want by using magical powers to change their identity.

Laboratory for a New Model of the Universe 2007,
101.6 x 101.6 x 99.1 cm

Kapoor presents us with what looks like a thought bubble or a globule in a paperweight – appropriately, as the Laboratory is addressing the weight of human knowledge, from the grand purposes of physics to the more specific concerns of art history. Playing with the idea of utopia (from the Greek, ‘no-place’), this model of the universe bears no sign of the artist’s hand: the edges are clean and the surfaces clinical. Kapoor has chosen to get away from the traditional materials of sculpture (stone, bronze, steel), and pursue the idea of the immaterial by working with plastic. The moulding process enables him to trap the air itself and turn it into an object. In effect, the acrylic mould forms a frame for empty space, making the invisible visible. Whereas the internal construction of the pigment pieces (from wood, plaster, or fibreglass) is disguised by their painted and dusty surfaces, the acrylic is transparent. It has nothing to hide, yet it is still illusionary. Light is refracted as it hits the denser medium, travelling more slowly and bending, so viewed through the block, the floor and surrounding walls appear to shift, hallucinatory.

Non-Object (Spire) 2008,
stainless steel,
302.2 x 300 x 300 cm

Like an upturned trumpet, the round base of this sculpture sits flush with the ground. It points to the sky, as if bring pulled up by an invisible thread, and disappears to a peak no wider than a pinprick. The perfectly smooth steel creates reflections that appear to dissolve and flow into the surroundings. Move nearer or further away and the spire acts like a giant kaleidoscope, repeating reflections. It creates its own mysterious, sweeping landscape, and in this sense, as the name suggests, the Non-Object has a life beyond its physical structure. Kapoor is fascinated by the tension between something that is clearly man-made, but which means more than the sum of its parts: the Buddhist idea of rupa (comprehension of form) is weighed up against svayambh (the Sanskrit word for a ‘self-born’ aesthetic).

Shooting into the Corner 2008–9,
base frame, barrel, air-receivers, compressor and airlines, projectiles
210 x 150 x 100 cm

Kapoor is renowned for his immaculate style, whereby the production processes are kept behind the scenes. He prefers for the artist’s hand in the work to remain invisible, and in Shooting into the Corner that logic is extended. In terms of scale and ambition, it exceeds its cousin, Past, Present, Future as the creation of the artwork is fully exposed – the process is part of the piece. An operator mans the canon and shoots wax missiles into the corner of the gallery; they describe the space in-between with an urgent red line. On its first display at the Royal Academy (London), Kapoor turned the role of the gallery inside-out. The artist authorised the audience to participate in warfare with the institution. Officially the preserve of calm observation, the place was filled with noise, sensation and muck. The life of the piece was recorded on the walls by its wax emissions; in this way, Shooting into the Corner is impossible to categorise as a single object, but as an active part of the architecture. Tonnes of red wax will accumulate in Mumbai’s Bollywood studios, a spectacular setting for such filmic blood and guts.

Sky Mirror 2010,
stainless steel,
275 x 290 x 146.8 cm

Mounted at a 60-degree angle from the ground, the tilt of the massive Sky Mirror is unlikely. There is magic in its engineering. (On leaving school, Kapoor had tried six months of an engineering course in Israel before devoting himself to art; professional engineers make a vital contribution to his practice). Although huge and fixed, Sky Mirror appears ephemeral and dynamic due to the ever-changing reflections across its surface. The concave side of the mirror is facing up, and like an inverted satellite dish, receives images of the sky and beams them back heavenwards. At the same time, to us earthlings, the reflections appear upside-down. Modern physics teaches that space is full of holes, where space, time and gravity are inconceivably distorted. Sky Mirror serves as an earth-bound black hole. It disrupts our perception of gravity: things go up, but they don’t come down.

Untitled 2010,
fibreglass and pigment,
300 x 300 cm

Alongside increasingly large-scale public projects, repetition fulfils a kind of meditative role for Kapoor. This recent piece loops back to the early pigment works. A round fibreglass bowl is fixed low on the wall. From a side angle, shadow tricks the eye into imagining a convex form, whereas approached straight-on, the bowl envelops the viewer’s field of vision. The cavity is filled with yellow pigment, sprayed all over for a perfectly even expanse in which to lose sense of the bowl’s proportions as an object. The swathe of colour acts as something of a magic circle, or Mandala: focus is found through looking.

Yellow, a primary colour, cannot be defined in terms of a mixture of other pigments. It is insistently itself. The effect of this pure colour is as heady as Indian ‘puree’, while its cavity evokes that most English of flowers, the daffodil’s trumpet – even so, the void submerges any single association. Kapoor originally came to England in order to be an artist, and as an artist he looks far afield.

Architectural models

This group of drawings and models surveys Kapoor’s collaborations with architects and engineers from throughout his career, alongside future projects. They offer a rare insight into the development of his ideas. Kapoor’s work is always about the human relationship with the space he creates – or destroys. For him, many of these architectural pieces are about the making of emptiness or the expansion of available space. He talks of his desire to make space ‘unreadable’, and while none of these works are pure sculpture, nor are they purely architectural. Each explores the ‘fiction of space’ through conceptual engagement with buildings.

Models range from the simplest example, Place (1982), a wall with a hole in it, through to Tarantantara (1999–2000), where Kapoor aimed to turn shell of a former mill-cum-gallery inside-out by filling it with a membrane form, which had a rectangular opening at one end morphing to a circular one at the other. The models show how vital scale is to the artist’s work. The spiritual dimensions associated with his sculptures are intensely concentrated in the miniature maquettes. These are the kernels of epic schemes, and a sense of the shift in scale is provided by the sculptures in the adjacent galleries.

Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor was born in Bombay in 1954 and left India in 1973 when he studied at Hornsey College of Art and Chelsea School of Art Design. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s most distinguished and significant contemporary artists.

One of the world's most distinguished contemporary artists, Turner Prize winning Anish Kapoor studied in London, where he is now based. He is well known for his use of rich pigment and imposing, yet popular works, such as the vast, fleshy and trumpet-like Marsyas, which filled the Tate's Turbine Hall as part of the Unilever Series, the giant reflecting, pod like sculpture Cloud Gate in Chicago's Millennium Park and his recent record breaking show at the Royal Academy, the most successful exhibition ever presented by a contemporary artist in London.

Over the past twenty years he has exhibited extensively in London and all over the world. His solo shows have included venues such as Kunsthalle Basel, Tate Gallery and Hayward Gallery in London, Reina Sofia in Madrid, CAPC in Bordeaux and most recently Haus der Kunst in Munich. He has also participated internationally in many group shows including the Whitechapel Art Gallery, The Royal Academy and Serpentine Gallery in London, Documenta IX in Kassel, Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Jeu de Paume and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Anish Kapoor was awarded the ‘Premio Duemila’ at the Venice Biennale in 1990, the Turner Prize Award in 1991 and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship at the London Institute in 1997 and a CBE in 2003. He is represented by the Lisson Gallery, London, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York and Galleria Continua and Galleria Massimo Minini, Italy.

1954    - Born, Bombay, India
1977-78- Chelsea School of Art, London
1990    - Awarded ‘Premio Duemila’ at the Venice Biennale
1991    - Turner Prize Award
1997    - Awarded Honorary Doctorate at the London Institute
2001    - Awarded an Honorary Fellowship at Royal Institute of British Architecture
2003    - Awarded CBE.
2010    - Commissioned to Design Iconic Visitor Attraction At Olympic Park

Anish Kapoor’s latest commission is to design the spectacular new public attraction for London 2012 Olympic Park entitled ‘The ArcelorMittal Orbit’. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell agreed the commission in partnership with steel magnate Mr. Lakshmi Mittal. The breathtaking sculpture that will be 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty – thought to be the tallest in the UK - will consist of a continuous looping lattice of tubular steel.


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