- Anish Kapoor
Acquired by the present owner from the above
The arist in conversation with Homi K. Bhabha in Exh. Cat, London, Hayward Gallery, Anish Kapoor, 1998, p. 35
Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, is a work of astounding beauty and a magnificent example of the world-renowned sculptor’s mastery of the alabaster medium. Untitled is a particularly serene paragon of Kapoor’s output, combining an understated elegance of form, an exploration of alternative space and the extraordinary manipulation of the translucent stone. On both sides of this distinguished sculpture a circular aperture allows space and light to flood into the mass, illuminating the porous alabaster from within. With Untitled, Kapoor references a venerable tradition of stone carving dating back thousands of years which reached a pinnacle of expression during the Renaissance and Baroque periods with the marvelously worked marble sculptures of Michelangelo and Bernini. Placed squarely on its plinth, Untitled arguably becomes the contemporary extension of this tradition, a sculptural form that has been imbued with emotive and artistic significance for more than two thousand years.
Kapoor took immense care when selecting which pieces of alabaster to use, touring excavation sites in Brescia, Carrara and Volterra to find the most suitable sections. The rough-hewn, craggy surface of Untitled, still bearing the marks of its prior existence within the quarry, contrasts magnificently with the two smoothly glowing circular apertures carved within the body of the stone, allowing light to filter luminously through the alabaster skin. The spaces contained within the circles invites associations with the idea of the void, a concept that has been of abiding interest for Kapoor throughout his career to date: “The void is not silent. I have always thought of it more as a transitional space, an in-between space. It’s very much to do with time. I have always been interested as an artist in how one can somehow look again for that very first moment of creativity where everything is possible and nothing has actually happened. It’s a space of becoming… something that dwells in the presence of the work… that allows it or forces it not to be what it states it is in the first instance.” (the arist in conversation with Homi K. Bhabha in Exh. Cat, London, Hayward Gallery, Anish Kapoor, 1998, p. 35) This idea of recreating the ‘very first moment’ references the notions of beginning and birth, imbuing the central focus of Untitled with movingly womb-like connotations, an idea further articulated by Germano Celant: “The circle is also the uterus, the holy enclosure, locus of the Great Mother, primary element of creation and reproduction.” (Germano Celant, Anish Kapoor, London, 1996, p. xxxv) Within Untitled, the circular opening as signifier of source of life is protected by the solidity of the rocky casing, forming an impregnable barrier between interior and exterior.
In its naturalistic celebration of organic material, gathered from the Earth’s surface, Untitled invites associations with the passing of geological eons and the corresponding passage of time and historical development. Kapoor commented on this crucial aspect of his work: “There is a history in the stone and through this simple device of excavating the stone it’s just as if a whole narrative sequence is suddenly there.” (cited in Ibid., p. 27) There is a sense of timelessness and continuity inherent within Untitled that induces a feeling of meditation and contemplation. The sheer beauty of the play of light through the alabaster surface is reminiscent of a sunbeam through stained glass in a cathedral, endowing the work with an element of spirituality and sanctity. Untitled truly stands as one of the pinnacles of Kapoor’s sculptural oeuvre, a glorious evocation of the transcendental and unquantifiable nature of the infinite.