Anish Kapoor - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 11, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The Artist
    Private Collection, Oslo

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Mori Art Museum, Happiness: A Survival Guide for Art and Life, 16 October 2003 - 18 January 2004

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘Artists don’t make objects. Artists make mythologies.’

    - ANISH KAPOOR, 2003

    In his world-leading career as a sculptor, Anish Kapoor has long been fascinated by darkness. Many of his works present immanent voids, sublime negative spaces that urge the artwork be completed by the aesthetic experience of the viewer. ‘A work will only have deep resonance if the kind of darkness that I can generate, let’s say a block of stone with a cavity in it can have a darkness, is resident in you already; that you know already. This is not a verbal connection, but a bodily one.’ (Interview with John Tusa, BBC Radio 3, 06/07/2003). Untitled, 2003 represents a monumental example of Kapoor’s trademark generative emptiness: varying from different angles of viewing, the subtle gleam of its black granite cavity offers a mirage of emergent form that seems to physically embody the visceral process of viewing as it takes place.

    The present lot’s angular aperture in hewn stone can be traced back to Kapoor’s standing sandstone pieces of the late 1980s and early 1990s. David Anfam writes of these that ‘they assume a rich inheritance, probably as old as humankind’s techne itself, bracketing blankness with spirituality. Unformed stones constituted the first manifestations of religious worship; they are still revered, as with the black meteoric rock of Mecca.’ (David Anfam et al., Anish Kapoor, London: Phaidon, 2009, p.100). Untitled, 2003 radiates a similar primal heritage, but lacks the emotively humanoid dimensions of these earlier works. Instead, the tumescent curves glinting in its central darkness lend the work a compelling androgyny that spans the characteristics of both totem and alcove, both monolith and cavern. In its allusive form we glimpse what Nancy Adajania has called ‘that velvet darkness at the deepest levels of human consciousness: just beyond the reach of reason, but not beyond the grasp of myth.’ (Nancy Adajania, ‘The Mind Viewing Itself’ in Anish Kapoor: Delhi, Mumbai, exh. cat., British Council and Lisson Gallery, 2010).

    Kapoor returns frequently to the idea of the cave in discussing his working methods, referencing Plato’s cave upon whose rear wall the Freudian shadows of truth are seen, and the ‘incredibly potent’ Elephanta Caves in Mumbai, which made a great impression upon him as a child. ‘I see the whole process as being archaeological in a sense, hopefully excavated out of the subconscious as much as it is literally out of the stone.’ (Anish Kapoor in conversation with Greg Hilty and Andrea Rose, Anish Kapoor: Delhi, Mumbai, exh. cat., British Council and Lisson Gallery, 2010). If Untitled, 2003 is excavated from the subconscious, as a found artefact it retains a particular and resonant quality of mystery that Kapoor has always strived for: a sense of the unknowable born from the Hindu aesthetic of svayambh, with all trace of the artist’s hand made absent. ‘I have always been interested in the self-made object. As if without an author, as if there by its own volition.’ (Anish Kapoor in Nicholas Baume (ed.), Anish Kapoor: Past, Present, Future, exh. cat., Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 2008). Unashamedly mythic in scope, the work reverberates on viewing, inviting profound and perhaps unnerving self-consciousness.

    Throughout his career Kapoor has worked in a vast range of materials, both natural and artificial, from the engagingly rough to the highly polished and reflective. In Untitled, 2003, the silky blackness of the artist’s chosen granite – far from the vivid, corporal reds of much of his sculpture – provides a seductive and solemn depth in which to find our shadows. Despite its palpable distance from us, the piece is richly responsive. ‘To be sure, Kapoor’s impersonality represents a clean postmodern break with the British lineage of personally-crafted sculpture of the interwar years of the twentieth century. Be that as it may, does a faint residue of Moore and Hepworth’s celebration of the aperture (as well as the feminine) imbue Kapoor’s eloquent voids?’ (David Anfam in David Anfam et al., Anish Kapoor, London: Phaidon, 2009, p.98). Indeed, the enclosed space from which our response is birthed hints at a womb, even as the whole tends towards obelisk; the whole also has the architectural, minimalist solidity of a Donald Judd. Though far from empty, it remains a niche that beckons the votive offering of imaginative reaction. Alongside all of Kapoor’s strongest works, Untitled, 2003 exults in its mystery, posing an involving yet playful inquest into the self and the nature of perception. Kapoor dispels the myth that the best art is born out of pain: ‘It is not. I’m sure that the best art – and maybe that’s a very eastern thing – is born out of joy.’ (Anish Kapoor, interview with Marcus Fairs, The Guardian, 07/05/2003).



black granite
86.7 x 73.4 x 50.9 cm (34 1/8 x 28 7/8 x 20 in.)

£300,000 - 500,000 ‡♠

Sold for £362,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 12 February 2015 7pm