Anish Kapoor - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

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

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘I stumbled upon the idea that one could make an object that was concave. Suddenly this was not just a camouflaged object…That felt like a real discovery. What happened was that it wasn’t just a mirror on a positive form - we have had that experience from Brâncuși onwards. This seemed to be a different thing, a different order or object from a mirrored exterior.’ (Anish Kapoor, quoted in Hossein Amirsadeghi, Sanctuary: Britain’s Artists and their Studios, London, 2011, p. 436).

    Constructed in Anish Kapoor’s significantly favoured colour, the red pristine surface of Momo contradicts its arduous construction, its lustre achieved through the meticulous layering of lacquer from the traditional Japanese technique on synthetic wood, skilfully deployed by Kapoor from 2000. Eschewing the evidence of the artist’s hand through the polished finish, geometric form and minimised compositional decisions, the contradiction and tension between process and finish, of what is seen and what remains imperceptible, is an essential and intriguing factor in Kapoor’s practice and is directly explored in the combination of spherical form and rich colour in Momo.

    Through his choice of sweeping line and evocation of light, Kapoor activates and enlivens the piece; the position of the viewer physically alters the light cast upon the work, giving the uniformly coloured sphere movement and chiaroscuro. Its expansive façade simultaneously absorbs and distorts, reflecting and projecting the light and space of its surroundings as it concurrently emanates an intense luminosity. ‘The interesting thing about a polished surface to me is that when it is really perfect enough something happens – it literally ceases to be physical; it levitates; it does something else, especially on concave surfaces… They cease to be physical and it is that ceasing to be physical that I’m after.’ (‘Anish Kapoor in Conversation with Nicholas Baume’ in, Anish Kapoor Past Present Future, exh. cat., Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, 2008, p. 53). The present work is imbued with a sense of infinite and morphological dynamism, transforming reflections from one thing into another, consumed by a compressed energy which infiltrates how we as a viewer perceive and relate to the work.

    With its rich duality of both mystery and symbolism, the colour red is a powerful constant in Kapoor’s output. From his scarlet pigment floor sculptures, to his larger installation works such as his Marsyas, his sculpture for the third installment of the Unilever Series in the Tate’s Turbine Hall in 2002, red is awash with symbolism of both physical and philosophical qualities for the artist: ‘I use red a lot… It’s true that in Indian culture red is a powerful thing; it is the colour a bride wears; it is associated with the matriarchal, which is central to Indian psychology. So I can see what leads me there culturally, but there’s a lot more to it… My tendency is to go from colour to darkness. Red has a very powerful blackness.’ (‘Anish Kapoor in conversation with Nicholas Baume’, in, Anish Kapoor Past Present Future, exh. cat., Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, September, 2008, p. 31). As well as drawing upon the significance of red in Indian culture, Kapoor’s intoxication with the colour and concave forms allow him to realise a new concept of depth. Kapoor comments, ‘Over the last so many years almost everything I have made is red. Red is a colour of the earth, it's not a colour of deep space; it's obviously the colour of blood and body. I have a feeling that the darkness that it reveals is a much deeper and darker darkness than that of blue or black. Turner's idea about colour was that colour was to be viewed in its relation to white, light always towards light. Everything I ever made I think, goes the other way. From red to black. It's the way that red recedes into darkness…That is mysterious. I'm not interested in composition. I want to find absolute conditions. if I make something red it's not red in relation to something else.’ (‘Anish Kapoor in conversation with Marcello Dantas’,, 2006, online).



synthetic wood, Japanese lacquer
150 x 150 x 20 cm (59 x 59 x 7 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2006.

£250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for £325,000

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 8 March 2019