Acquired from the above by the present owner
Executed in 2006, Turning the World Upside Down (Blue) forms part of a widely celebrated series of mirror sculptures begun in the 1990s, which are exhibited in public spaces and museums all over the world. Although each approaches its task in a different fashion, the purpose of all the works in this series is to capture what Kapoor calls the ‘contemporary sublime’. This notion is based on the idea that a new form of art has emerged that challenges the primacy of the picture plane and the space in which art is intended to exist. In Kapoor’s words, the “traditional sublime is in deep space,” thus in order to create a new sublime, “you have to create a new space… in front of the picture plane” (Ibid.).
Turning the World Upside Down (Blue) epitomises that aim. Drawing in light and images from its surroundings, beyond the frame of the viewer’s vision, and well beyond the scope of the picture plane, it succeeds in creating an alternative reality. This reality is not notable simply because it is distorted, or tinted, but because it refers to a different space altogether. In the same way that the effects of Dan Flavin sculptures are not confined to the light bulbs themselves, but rather their effect on the room, it is the presence of Turning the World Upside Down (Blue) that makes it such an exceptional work. In this tendency, Kapoor echoes the work of artists such as Michael Heizer and James Turrell, who force the viewer to re-examine the banal and intimately familiar beauty of the day to day, be that the sky, framed and isolated in one of Turrell’s Skyspaces, or one of Heizer’s anachronistic boulders, whose placement forces aesthetic revaluation on the part of the viewer. In a similar fashion Turning the World Upside Down (Blue) forces a heightened awareness of space on the part of the viewer, as well as a reappraisal of the room one stands in, and the objects within it.
It should also be noted that Kapoor’s “contemporary sublime” relies upon constituent material as much as subject, as it is with his choice of medium that Kapoor has been most unfailingly inventive. He has consistently defied the notion that a sculptor must respect the inherent nature of his materials, saying: “‘Truth to materials’ ran, and runs, contrary to everything I want to do”; and yet the materials themselves are vital, as they enable the deception, which in turn creates the new space (Anish Kapoor cited in: Charlotte Higgins, ‘A Life in Art: Anish Kapoor’, The Guardian, 8 November 2008, online). As Kapoor states: “art is all about illusion and the unreal” (Ibid.). The illusory space created thus serves a similar function to the canvases and sculptures executed by artists such as Ad Reinhardt and Yves Klein. It is a void, comprised of colour, which seeks transcendence on the part of the viewer. Turning the World Upside Down (Blue) is thus a direct transmission of a mystical idea, through the creation of a new space.
This is a space that can be seen, but does not exist. The viewer willingly enters into the illusion and seeks the new sublime that Kapoor has created. Even so, while the viewer knows that what he sees does not exist, the tension between the real and the imagined, the body and the mind, is palpable. Seductive and transcendent, Turning the World Upside Down (Blue) epitomises Kapoor’s fundamentally democratic practice, privileging the viewer’s experience of the work over the artistic conceit that triggered its execution. As he has said, “it is the artist's duty to find poetic meaning in things,” and to transmit that meaning to the viewer (Ibid.).
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