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Anish Kapoor Untitled 2005

Untitled, 2005
Painted aluminum. 86 1/2 in. (220 cm) diameter; 18 1/4 in. (46.4 cm) depth. Signed and dated “Anish Kapoor 2005” on the reverse.

This untitled work by Anish Kapoor (artist of the Cloud Gate) will be sale at Phillips de Pury & Company in New York with an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000.

Exploring the fine line between subject matter and content, Anish Kapoor marries simple, elemental materials such as marble, aluminum, petroleum jelly, and pigment with geometric forms to create his spiritually transcendent paintings and sculptures. An exercise in stylistic understatement, his work has become universally recognized for its use of saturated organic colors, sensuously refined surfaces and skins, and its powerful simplicity of form, often resulting in elegant optical illusions. Anish Kapoor’s content is enigmatic, simultaneously using the languages of Formalism and Minimalism while evading their art historical connotations and critiques entirely. In his words “content arises out of certain seemingly formal considerations, considerations…about form, about material, about context -and that when that subject matter is sufficiently far away, something else occurs-maybe it’s the role of the artist then, as I see it, to pursue, and that’s something that one might call content.” (BBC Radio3 interview with John Tusa)

In the mid-1990s, Kapoor became increasingly fascinated with the notion of the void or concavity, playing with the powerful tension between positive and negative space. Many of his sculptures since seem to recede into the distance, disappear into the ground or distort the space around them. Speaking on the subject, Kapoor suggests that “the void is not silent. I have always thought of it more and more as a transitional space, an in between space. It’s very much to do with time. It’s a space of becoming something that dwells in the presence of the work that allows it, or forces it, not to be what it states in the first instance.” (Anish Kapoor in: Anish Kapoor, London Hayward Gallery, 1998 pp. 35-36).

Frequently, it is the presence of this absence or void which acts as the transformative element in his work, converting the medium of stone, aluminum, glass or plaster into a work of art. Often these voids manifest themselves in the shape of circular, elliptical or hemispheric concavities. In Untitled, 2005, Kapoor successfully manipulates space using only the simplest designs to confuse our senses through its reflective and playful relationship with light. The work does not end at its rounded edges but instead extends beyond into our spatial and spiritual existence visually, palpably and audibly shaping our experience of the work. The illusion is enhanced by the choice of a pearlescent white as the color of this work. The disc seems to bleed into the walls of the gallery and the white on white juxtaposition draws attention to the gleaming surface work’s. The work’s milky facade confronts the impenetrable darkness of his earlier void series which created black, cave-like vacancies in various spaces.

Kapoor’s geometric forms are not without their real-world archetypes and the circle, omnipresent in his oeuvre, suggests the important Hindu iconography of the Bindu, interpreted as zero, drop or seed. The Bindu, or circle, is a central point representing concentrated energy and is seen as the point or genesis of creation as well as a focal point for meditation, immortalized in age old South Asian meditative aids such as yantras or mandalas. Kapoor, born in Mumbai, often incorporates ideas of non-being and nonduality common to both Hindu and Buddhist spiritual traditions found throughout India and Asia. In this work, the hi-gloss reflective surface of the lens both absorbs and reflects light, capturing and distorting the reality around it. In this way, the viewer’s eye is drawn into and held by the work becoming a contemporary version of these ancient meditative aids.

“Personally,” the artists states that “I have always been drawn to a notion of fear, towards a sensation of vertigo, of falling, of being pulled inwards.This is a notion of the sublime which reverses the picture of union with light.This is an inversion, a sort of turning inside-out.This is a vision of darkness.” (Anish Kapoor quoted in Cleant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1998, p. 35) Through his sparse and codified language, Kapoor seeks to understand and communicate ideas on the human condition.The artist successfully draws attention to our own humanity by creating works which play with the viewer’s sense of space, time and other physical realities.

Phillips de Pury & Company; New York
Contemporary Art, Part I
May 14, 2009