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  • Provenance

    Lisson Gallery, London
    Private Collection, France
    Private Collection, Switzerland

  • Catalogue Essay

    Anish Kapoor’s sculptural output of the past three decades has become contemporary art’s defining mode of bridging the gap between physical and psychological space. Exemplified through his impeccably finished sculptures, Kapoor has succeeded in giving emptiness the same philosophical and aesthetic weight as that which is tangible. His enormous public installations have breathed new life into familiar cityscapes, transforming the viewer’s perceptions of their spatial environments, creating surfaces that re-orient the observer to their position, consequently deconstructing spatial ontology. Burrowing into reflective surfaces, Kapoor has manipulated the notion of the physical expanse to exhilarating and wildly unfamiliar ends. As he subtracts structure in his sculpture, Kapoor adds into his work infinitely more—a site in which to explore and imagine. As in the present lot, Untitled, 1996, Kapoor explores the reflections of our surroundings as much as he allows us to profoundly explore mediations of internal and external depth.

    With its immaculate and sumptuous midnight pigment, Kapoor’s large moon-like sculpture evokes the precipice of a great abyss, a gateway to a calm immersive void. The work invites the viewer with its great rim reaching out from the wall; it beckons our engagement, inviting us to meditate upon the mystery and beauty of its opaque facade. Kapoor‘s desire to go beyond the object is emphasized here in a seemingly limitless plane. In fact, this work proposes a liminal space,physically affirming its presence yet channeling beyond its immediate surroundings into the unknown. Focusing on the subject of the void, toying with the powerful tension between positive and negative space, Kapoor produced sculptures and sculptural space that seem to recede into the distance, distort the surrounding space or disappear all together. The present lot, Untitled, 1996, is defined as much by its negative space as by the palpable material which composes it, the hallowed surface imbues an almost primordial religious significance into an otherwise mundane object. In carving space with an elegant surface, Kapoor succeeds in producing a space in which the projected meaning onto the material is gloriously and ceremoniously embraced. While not strictly believing in being expressive, the artist believes that it is his role to bring to expression the ability 'to define means that allow phenomenological and other perceptions which one might use, one might work with, and then move towards a poetic existence.' ('Conversations between Anish Kapoor and Homi K. Bhabha,' in H.K. Bhabha, Anish Kapoor, Berkeley: University of California Press, Hayward Gallery, 1998, p.11)

    Indeed, the perspectival distance between subject and object, or the mimetic balance between the viewer’s gaze and projected desires, are 'replaced by a movement of erasure and inversion—‘reverse, affirm, negate.’ It is as if the possibility of pictoriality or image making, associated with visual pleasure, has been unsettled to reveal emptiness, darkness, blankness. However the purpose of Kapoor’s work is not to represent the mediation of light and darkness, or negative and positive space, in a dialectical relationship in which emptiness will travel through the darkening mirror to assume the plenitude of presence. Kapoor stays with the state of transitionality, allowing it the time and space to develop its own affects —anxiety, unease, restlessness—so that viewing becomes part of the process of making the work itself. The spectator’s relation to the object involves a process of questioning the underlying conditions through which the work becomes a visual experience in the first place.” (H. Bhabha, 'Anish Kapoor: Making Emptiness,'Anish Kapoor, London, 1998, p. 11)

    Kapoor’s fascination with monochrome surfaces- and most certainly the repetitive employment of blue throughout his oeuvre- is evocative of the early work of Yves Klein and his seminal notion of pure color:International Klein Blue (IKB). Summoning the sacred hue of lapis lazuli Klein would introduce the public to 'pure ideas' through the mediatedsurface of his monochromatic proposition, blue painted canvases installed on poles slightly extended from the walls, negotiating withpreconceptions of art and the artistic experience. Klein was also fascinated by the notion of the void, electing to exhibit the notion of emptiness in his show titled: La spécialisation de la sensibilité àl’état matière première en sensibilité picturale stabilisée, Le Vide (The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into StabilizedPictorial Sensibility, The Void), 1958. Klein essentially staged a happening in the gallery based on the premise of nothingness, leaving the sparse gallery with nothing but a blue curtain in its entrance and empty display case. In a similar way, the formal and theoretical qualities of Kapoor’s work intersect with Klein’s, however, through his sparse and codified language, Kapoor seeks to understand and communicate ideas on the human condition.

    As simply as it appears, Untitled, 1996, is a black hole; a gravitational engine, relentlessly pulling its viewers into its infinite space. Kapoor successfully draws attention to our own humanity by creating works which play with the viewer’s sense of perception, time and other physical realities. 'Personally,' the artist states, '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 G.Celant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1998.)



midnight blue pigment on aluminium
200.7 x 200.7 x 25.4 cm. (79 x 79 x 10 in.)

£1,000,000 - 1,500,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £1,142,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art Department
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 27 June 2013 7pm