Germano Celant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1998, p. 214, illustrated in colour (with incorrect date) and p. 215 (installation view)
Exhibition Catalogue, London, Hayward Gallery, Anish Kapoor, 1998, p. 85, illustrated in colour
"Space is perhaps one of the only truly abstract entities. One of the things about mirrored objects, and especially the forms that are inside-out, is that they seem to be very active, to be in various states of becoming." The artist cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Anish Kapoor, 2008, p. 52
Anish Kapoor's Untitled, 1996 operates within the limitless realm of sensation, immersing the viewer within a feeling that can be likened to turning the world upside down. Exhibited soon after its creation, Untitled was unveiled in the dramatic venue of Kunst-Station St. Peter in Cologne, an innovative and progressive centre for the arts. This beautiful parish church has become an unconventional yet popular centre for contemporary art and music in Germany, staging exhibitions of artists such as Francis Bacon, Joseph Beuys, Eduardo Chillida, and Cindy Sherman.
Unlike the vertigo inducing, immaterial voids of his infinite 'holes in space', this large, reflective disk of polished stainless steel sucks in and reflects all of its surroundings, presenting the world inverted as if in a bowl. Eternally divided between inner and outer realms, Kapoor's Untitled fuses the world of the viewer with that of its object self. Its concave form activates the transformative properties of the polished steel, capturing the constantly changing natural world within its fixed, artificial grasp. The act of looking places the viewer as the link uniting the two – a dialectic function usually performed in Kapoor's work by the hollow or void itself.
"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. Brancusi made a number of polished objects, such as the heads, that have convex surfaces. Jeff Koons has also used polished convex surfaces. But what happens with concave surfaces is, in my view, completely beguiling. They cease to be physical and it is that ceasing to be physical that I'm after" states the artist (Exhibition Catalogue, Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Anish Kapoor, 2008, p. 53). The gleaming mirrored surface of Untitled represents one of Kapoor's earliest experiments in this medium and was executed at a time when the artist was moving his sculptures from the floor to the wall, making them appear profoundly weightless. His use of a pristine, reflective mirror-like material would later evolve into major projects such as Sky Mirror, a 33 ft. angled dish erected in New York's Rockefeller Center, and perhaps his most ambitious exploration into the complex dynamics of mirrored form, the monumental Cloud Gate, 2004, commissioned for Chicago's Millennium Park.
Through the panoramic vision it presents of the space and life around it, Untitled poetically embodies the reflective powers of art and captures the alchemy of creation. As the viewer moves around it, the energy that unfolds at its core changes eternally with its perspective as events in its experience become events in the visual work. This sunken, metallic abyss of light evinces one of the key conflicts in art that permeates all Kapoor's work: that of the issue of balance between the visible and the spiritual; between the concrete material of a work and its idea; between the form and the void. As Kapoor observes: "It seemed it was not a mirrored object but an object full of mirroredness. The spatial questions it seemed to ask were not about deep space but about present space, which I began to think about as a new sublime. If the traditional sublime is in deep space, then this is proposing that the contemporary sublime is in front of the picture plane, not beyond it. I continue to make these works because I feel this is a whole new spatial adventure. To make new art you have to make a new space" (ibid., p. 52).
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