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  • Provenance

    Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia

  • Catalogue Essay

    Exploring the fine line between subject matter and content in his art, Anish Kapoor marries simple, elemental materials such as granite, limestone, marble, and pigment with basic geometric forms to create his spiritually transcendent paintings and sculptures. Stylistically an exercise in understatement, his work has become universally recognizable for its saturated and organic colors, sensuously refined surfaces and skins, and its powerful simplicity of form, often resulting in elegant optical illusions. 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 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.” (From a radio interview with John Tusa on the BBC. July 6, 2000)
    In the mid-1990s, Kapoor became increasingly fascinated with the notion of the void, 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, steel, glass, or plaster into a work of art. Often these voids manifest themselves in the shape of a circle, ellipse, or hemispheric concavity.This monolithic work from 2001 is defined as much by its negative space as by the palpable material which composes it and the hallowed area on its face imbues an almost primordial religious significance into an otherwise mundane object. In carving the face of the sculpture and smoothing parts of its surface, Kapoor carves out a space in which the “art” inherent within the material is gloriously and ceremoniously revealed.
    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 see as the point or genesis of creation as well as a focal point for meditation, immortalized in age old SouthAsian meditative aids such as yantras or mandalas. Kapoor, born in Mumbai, often incorporates ideas of non-being and non-duality common to both Hindu and Buddhist spiritual traditions found throughout India andAsia. In this work, the inky black cave in the center of the sculpture seems to absorb all light and continue on indefinitely even though the work is only a mere twelve inches deep. In this way, the viewer’s eye is drawn into and held by the work, becoming a contemporary version of these ancient meditative aids. Kapoor’s concavities also share obvious formal similarities with birth and pregnancy, as both, simultaneously, reveal their state of being while concealing the absolute nature of it.
    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. Personally, the artist 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 German Cleant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1998, p.XXXV)
    Emerging from velvety black granite, this monumental sculpture embodies Kapoor’s duality between object and non-object. He creates a tension between the rough-hewn edges of the organic matter and its now sumptuously polished face but allows for momentary interruptions of the stone’s imperfections to remain throughout.According to the artist, “There is history in the stone and through this simple device of excavating the stone it’s just as if a whole narrative sequence is suddenly there…at the end of the process the stone becomes something else, becomes light, becomes a proposition, becomes a lens” (Hayward Gallery, eds,Anish Kapoor, London, pp. 27, 29).The material, which both simultaneously celebrates and sheds its reputation as a hard and unforgiving element, is not conquered, as in the virtuosic carvings of Bernini or Michelangelo, but instead has seemingly evolved to an elevated state of its own existence.




Black granite.

61 1/4 x 75 1/2 x 12 in. (155.6 x 191.8 x 30.5 cm).

This work is unique.

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Contemporary Art Part I

15 May 2008, 7pm
New York