Lot 143
  • 143

ANISH KAPOOR | Eyes Turned Inwards

300,000 - 500,000 GBP
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  • Anish Kapoor
  • Eyes Turned Inwards
  • pigment on fibreglass
  • 92 by 92 by 77 cm. 36 1/4 by 36 1/4 by 29 3/8 in.
  • Executed in 1991-92.


Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Los Angeles, Regen Projects, Anish Kapoor, September - October 1992


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate although the overall tonality is slightly lighter and brighter in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals some very light burnishing to some of the tips of the protruding elements as well as some faint handling marks towards the extreme outer edges. Further very close inspection reveals a superficial layer of light dust adhered to the surface of the work. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultraviolet light.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“Red is the colour of body…Red is at the centre. It is eyes turned inwards, a vision of the interior.”  

Anish Kapoor cited in: Exh. Cat., Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Anish Kapoor: Past, Present, Future, 2008, n.p.


Eyes Turned Inwards offers a seminal example of Anish Kapoor’s awe-inspiring work in sculpture, as well as the artist’s singular ability to draw viewers in through immediate visual and physical engagement. Executed in fibreglass and pigment, the present work is a formative part of Kapoor’s remarkable series illuminating spatial voids, which he began in 1987 with key works such as Shrine, and Void Field executed one year later. Eyes Turned Inwards powerfully exemplifies the set of dichotomies intrinsic to Kapoor’s spectacular oeuvre: inside versus outside, finite versus infinite, absence versus presence, and material versus immaterial. Its dark biomorphic form and chromatic shifts in deep crimson open an extraordinary window into unbounded space, transcending classical sculpture through resonances that are visceral, poetic and mythic. The title of the present work is decidedly self-reflexive, with both intimate and interior associations; Kapoor himself asserts, “I am concerned with the intimate. I want to draw you in close. Intimacy engages. Intimacy implies shortening the distance between the viewer and the viewed” (Anish Kapoor cited in: Exh. Cat., Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Anish Kapoor: Past, Present, Future, 2008, n.p.). Thus in Kapoor the notion of spectatorship is made anew, and his sculpture - and the space surrounding it - offers peculiar, spiritual and deeply personal experiences.

Eyes Turned Inwards remains a particularly exceptional work it’s rare  garnet red hue, a colour that is echoed poignantly throughout the artist’s repertoire, from his monumental outdoor sculptures to his symbolic strewn pigment works. The colour evokes home, earth and motherhood for Kapoor. It is the colour of blood and thus a signifier of human life. Yet red is also a symbol of profound spirituality in India, Kapoor’s birthplace, where the colour is deeply honoured: “I use red a lot… It’s true that in Indian Culture red is a powerful thing…but there’s more to it… my tendency is to go from colour to darkness. Red has a very powerful blackness. This overt colour, this open and visually beckoning colour, also associates itself with a dark interior world” (Anish Kapoor cited in: ibid., p. 31). In the present work, the juxtaposition between light and dark, interior and exterior is made manifest through the sculpture’s concave shape, which ultimately creates the void inherent and crucial to Kapoor’s visual language. The chromatic variations of the present work and its synthesis of colour and space undoubtedly recall Mark Rothko’s sublime use of pigment in works such as Red on Maroon (1959), where deep crimson blends and bleeds into lighter and darker shades of pink and saturated black. Yet in Eyes Turned Inwards the disconcerting depth of this central, hollowed-out void transforms the crimson colour of the sculpture’s exterior into an eerie blackness through a physical implosion of space from within and without, rendering Rothko’s two-dimensional work almost static in comparison. Art historian, critic and curator Germano Celant strikingly claims of Kapoor, “The artist has a central place in the history of culture because he has the power to give new forms to matter, endowing it with new character. His ability to produce a continuous metamorphosis of the universe, on a microcosmic but greatly symbolic scale, makes him an architect, a director, of the generative process” (Germano Celant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1998, p. XI).

Executed between 1991 and 1992, Eyes Turned Inwards occupies a critical place within the artist’s works that explore the limits of space, mass, form and structure through the employment of natural materials. Kapoor won the revered Turner Prize in 1991, making the year the present work was executed one of the most significant of the artist’s career. One year before, Kapoor represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale with his immense installation Void Field, which similarly explored metaphysical ideas of space, time and spirituality. The exhibition brought Kapoor prodigious international acclaim, and his work now remains in the collections of esteemed institutions around the world, including Tate Modern, London, San Francisco MoMA and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Kapoor’s personal position at the intersection between Indian and British culture, and between East and West, invests his artistic language with a distinctive geopolitical undercurrent deeply relevant to contemporary issues of identity and globalisation. Furthermore, Kapoor’s vibrant tones, enigmatic articulation of space and astounding ability to captivate his viewers makes the artist one of the most significant of his time. In its cryptic passages between inner and outer, surface and depth, obstinate and indeterminate, Eyes Turned Inwards ultimately explores the complex possibilities of abstract space, in turn presenting an elegant and philosophical contribution to Kapoor’s worldly, highly sophisticated and dynamic artistic orchestration.