- Anish Kapoor
- 1000 Names
- wood, gesso and red pigment
- 125 by 50 by 70cm.
- 49 1/4 by 19 3/4 by 27 1/2 in.
- Executed in 1986.
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner circa 1987
Marjory Jacobson, Art & Business, London 1993, illustrated in colour
Germano Celant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1996, p. 77, illustrated in colour
"In [Kapoor's] hand, powder... can stand up as bravely as marble and be shaped and moulded in an infinity of ways. Quite apart from that, Kapoor has at his disposal the gamut of colour that will be familiar to anyone who has ever walked through the spice markets of India, Egypt or Morocco. Colours elsewhere very rare in art are his birthright, and he uses them with a freedom and intensity that not even the European Orientalists of the 19th century quite dared to attempt" (John Russell, 'Art View; Bright Young Talents: Six Artists with a Future' in The New York Times, 18 May 1986).
Appearing as if from another world, the extraordinary form, wondrous colour and sumptuous lunar texture of 1000 Names, mark it out as a very special sculpture. One of very few works in this early breakthrough series of sculptures to be created for the wall, this work gives an early indication as to the future direction of Kapoor's art. Kapoor first embarked on the 1000 Names series in 1979-80 following a trip to India, where he discovered primary colour in its raw state in the markets and temples. As Germano Celant related, "In its perfect alloy, this material corresponded to his search for an absolute metaphysical language ... which is composed of superior fragments that together solidify the multiple complexity of the universe" (Germano Celant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1998, p. XX). In simpler words, the discovery of this beautiful natural powdered pigment allowed Kapoor to transform symbols into reality and render metaphors of light and creation as physical objects. Adopting this within the framework of Western sculptural education he had learnt at Chelsea School of Art, Kapoor was able to bring a new chromatic resonance to his formal understanding. Kapoor explains the series in an interview in Art Monthly: "1000 Names implies that the objects are part of a much bigger whole. The objects seem to be coming out of the ground or out of the wall, the powder defining a surface, implying that there is something below the surface, like an iceberg poking out of the subconscious" (Anish Kapoor quoted in Douglas Maxwell, 'Anish Kapoor Interview by Douglas Maxwell', Art Monthly, London, May 1990).
The works in this series were characterised by a fusion of sculpture, painting and architecture, emphasizing texture and form, and each carried the softly dusted powdery surface of brightly coloured pigment. Using the pigment of pure paint as plastic material - many works from this series exist as solely pigment alone, most notably his floor pieces, in which he employed pigment in soft tumbling mounds creating shapes of half-moons and pyramids - Kapoor was able to create a new kind of sculpture which moved beyond its traditional boundaries and conversed with other artistic forms. As he further stated: "I do not want to make sculpture about form ... I wish to make sculpture about belief or about passion, about experience that is outside of material concern" (Anish Kapoor in Germano Celant, Ibid, p. XX)
Dramatically extending out from the wall, the rich profundity of powdered red pigment in the present work radiates a quiet energy which permeates the surrounding space. The surface, carefully and methodically composed, lends a softness to the work, the pigment offering a tactility through its inviting texture. Structurally, Kapoor drew on his background in architecture to create a wooden armature which is perfectly balanced and symmetrical. The shape recalls a shooting star or rocket, and its strong angles play with light and darkness and the shadows that are cast. Kapoor has been fascinated by the interplay of form and light in his sculpture and has aspired to evoke a sense of mystery. Much like his predecessor Yves Klein, Kapoor has sought to create art which engages his viewer and transports them to a sublime state of being. In the present work, Kapoor renders visible through pure simplicity of colour and form, a radiating representation of his earliest objectives. As if mystically suspended in air, 1000 Names exhibits both the interplay of attraction and resistance, gravity and vertigo.