Anish Kapoor - Disruptors: Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design and Watches Hong Kong Thursday, May 25, 2023 | Phillips
  • As one of contemporary art’s true champions, the oeuvre of British-Indian sculptor, Anish Kapoor, is a convergence of deep metaphysical inquiry and innovative material exploration. Meticulously composed of polished stainless steel in silver—the same tone as half of the artist’s top twenty results for mirrored works at auction — Non Object (Mirror) is a shining example of this, projecting an ephemeral world while holding up a mirror to both the beauty and the mystery of the human experience. Boasting impressive exhibition history, the present work was shown as part of Kapoor’s important 2009 solo show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.


    Kapoor’s sculptural offering delves into profound metaphysical dichotomies: presence and absence, being and nonbeing, and solidity and intangibility. Drawing from both Western and Eastern cultural influences, his artistry seeks to engage the viewer and stir a subdued, yet palpable, response. This reflective sculpture seamlessly weaves together the artwork, the observer, and the environment into a singular, ever-changing tapestry.  


    Non Object (Mirror) is alluring because of its ability to depict the intangible. The polished stainless-steel surface is alive with potential, reflecting and merging with the surrounding environment while simultaneously containing a distinct form. As such, it suspends spectators between two realms, encouraging them to consider their own place and purpose.


    The present work (left) installed at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2009
    Artwork: © 2023 Anish Kapoor / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London



    Reflections of Infinity


    In the late 1980s, Kapoor embarked on a journey to create a series of works characterised by concave forms and a deep, dark blue-black hue. These creations were not merely hollow voids but rather seemed to be filled with an encompassing darkness. This subtle distinction led to the artist's next endeavour, Descent into Limbo, in 1992. The installation featured a cube-shaped building with a 2.5-metre hole set into the floor. Painted black, it created the illusion of a hole brimming with infinite darkness rather than an empty space.


    Anish Kapoor, Descent into Limbo, 1992
    Artwork: © 2023 Anish Kapoor / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London


    This exploration sparked the idea of employing a concave mirror to achieve a similar effect, to fill a space with "mirror-ness." While convex mirrors have been present in art since the Etruscan period, concave mirrors have primarily been utilised as scientific instruments. Their discovery in the 15th century led to their use in telescopes as an extension of the lens, producing intriguing visual effects.


    Created for universal connection, the present work captivates the observer with its meticulously refined silver surface, which presents an impression of infinite depth and dimension. Stemming from his collection of mirrorlike creations, Non Object (Mirror) reflects or distorts the onlooker and the surroundings, conjuring a sense of boundless space, while tenderly delivering a playful melange of light and beguiling optical effects.


    In traditional painting, spatial depth extends from the picture's surface deep into the interior. However, the present work’s concave mirror alters the viewer's perception of space and depth, offering a unique and captivating experience. This innovative deployment redefines the relationship between the artwork, the viewer, and the environment, inviting further examination and critical analysis.



    Where East meets West


    Kapoor's use of mirrors positions him within a rich lineage in the canon of art history, while simultaneously forges a unique artistic identity. His innovative exploration of reflection, refraction, and the interplay of light and shadow creates a dynamic dialogue between past and present, bridging the gap between traditional iconography and contemporary artistic expression. In the renowned 1434 painting The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, the convex mirror occupies a central position, reflecting the entire room and the figures within it. This strategic placement alludes to the eye of God, omnipresent and all-seeing, while also functions as a visual device to expand the depth and perspective of the composition.



    Jan van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait, 1434
    National Gallery, London
    Image: © The National Gallery, London/Scala, Florence


    The present work’s ethereal and meditative qualities subtly allude to this omnipresent divine, while also draws inspiration from Eastern spirituality and Buddhist concepts. In their enigmatic forms, the sculpture’s dimensions evoke a sense of interconnectedness where all phenomena are inextricably linked in a cosmic web of cause and effect.


    Kapoor creates an immersive experience, inviting us to contemplate our own existence within the context of a larger, interdependent universe. This introspective engagement resonates with Buddhist meditation practices, which emphasise mindfulness and self-awareness as pathways to enlightenment.


    Moreover, Kapoor's sculptures embody the essence of impermanence, a fundamental tenet of Buddhist philosophy. The ever-changing reflections within his works speak to the transitory nature of life, reminding viewers of the ephemerality of material existence and the eternal cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This artistic approach to the divine also finds parallels in Tibetan mandalas, intricate geometric designs that symbolize the cosmos and serve as meditative aids. Like Kapoor's sculptures, mandalas are visual representations of sacred realms that foster contemplation and guide the viewer towards spiritual awakening.



    Mandala of the Forms of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Transcendent Wisdom, late 14th Century
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund 1917



    Down the Rabbit Hole We Go


    The exploration of space, and consequently time, plays a crucial role in Kapoor’s work. As one moves in front of Non Object (Mirror), peculiar phenomena occur: movements appear reversed, and the viewer's reflection is inverted. This upside-down figure carries symbolic weight, suggesting a disruption of the natural order.


    “One way of looking at it, it’s a trick, it’s an illusion, the eyes reading a pictorial form. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have deep psychological intention. I think we have to be rather thoughtful in our modern era, where we have other ideas about skills. It isn’t just about rending the image, making the image, it’s also about this very complex question of where the self is. ‘Who am I? Is it just a game, or is it a game with deeper intention?’ and I think these things can overlap.” i


    While the experience might seem playful on the surface, it possesses an undercurrent of gravity and perplexity in regards to spatial perception. The viewer is left questioning the nature of their experience, confronted with what the artist refers to as a “void object” or “non-object.” As such, the artwork acts as a stark contrast to Jacques Lacan's concept of self-recognition, and undermines the very fundamentals of the human condition.


    A deeper understanding of the work demands a deeper understanding of ourselves – a kind of Rorschach experiment between the work’s existence and our own. As we enter a new world that captured in the surface of reflection, Kapoor opens the door for a transformative experience in this abstract dimension – much like Lewis Carroll’s tale Through the Looking Glass. There, Alice must 
    journey into the mirror world to confront her own fears, desires, and potential, ultimately emerging as a more self-aware and resilient individual. This begs the question: are we ready for the same?




    A clip from the 1951 film by Walt Disney Productions, Alice in Wonderland, based on the Alice books by Lewis Carroll


    By challenging traditional notions of space, time, and self-perception, Kapoor invites the audience to engage in critical analysis and contemplation, examining the boundaries between art, reality, and individual consciousness.


    Collector’s Digest


    • With works by the artist highly sought after, forming part of prestigious institutional and private collections worldwide, Kapoor has been the subject of extensive solo exhibitons around the world throughout his career.

    • This includes in Beijing in 2022, where Kapoor was honoured with being the first artist whose works were shown in Lisson Gallery’s new permanent space in the city.

    • Other recent solo shows include at Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden in Wuppertal, Germany in 2022, and at Regen Projects in Los Angeles (4 March – 15 April 2023).

    • As the first British artist to be honoured with a major, dual-gallery exhibition at the Gallerie dell'Accademia and Palazzo Manfrin in Venice, an important retrospective of Kapoor’s work was recently presented in conjunction with the opening of the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022.

    • Kapoor recently unveiled his much-anticipated, first permanent public artwork in New York, which, like the present work, is also a silver reflective piece.

    • A comparable silver, concave mirrored work by Kapoor recently achieved an impressive GBP 1,003,000 with buyer’s premium at auction (USD 1,124,339) against pre-auction estimates of GBP 400,000 – 600,000 (USD 448,430 – 672,645). It was sold in London in October 2022.




    Anish Kapoor shares the motivations behind the immersive potential of concavity and scale, 2020



     i Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop. ‘Anish Kapoor on the Power of Concave Mirror’. Cobo Social. online

    • Provenance

      Lisson Gallery, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Royal Academy of Arts, Anish Kapoor, 26 September - 11 December 2009



Non Object (Mirror)

stainless steel
180 x 180 x 43 cm. (70 7/8 x 70 7/8 x 16 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2009.

Full Cataloguing

HK$3,800,000 - 4,800,000 

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Disruptors: Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design and Watches

Hong Kong Auction 25 May 2023