Etienne-Louis Boullée cited in: David Anfam, Anish Kapoor, London 2009, p. 88.
The work of Anish Kapoor marks a profound passage between material and immaterial, finite and infinite, absence and presence. In his sculptures, contradictions exist and coexist, and the artist becomes an architect of both space and self. Executed in 2005, Untitled is part of Kapoor’s ongoing investigation of the limits of space, mass, form and structure through the material of carved stone. This transformative body of work began in 1987 when the artist carved central hollowed-out voids from roughly hewn stone, in works such as Shrine executed that year, and Void Field (1989) executed two years later. In the present work, Kapoor turns to Italian alabaster to express spatial meditations, and Untitled remains one of the most elegant and unique works of Kapoor’s oeuvre for its rich red-pink hue and iridescent interior surface. Kapoor’s choice of medium opens up a dialogue with temporal and spatial concerns, and his work ultimately exhibits how earthly, geological formations such as stone, marble and granite might become symbols for the cosmic and universal order of time. Untitled thus stands as a symbol of stasis amidst passing time, and embodies our ever-lasting, very human journey towards self-awareness and the pursuit of truth.
The duality between interiority and exteriority is essential to the artist’s visual language, and he articulates the deeply internal through the notion of the void, which is in turn expressed by the hollowed out core of his sculptures. Kapoor asserts that, “the site of the whole work is shifting from being an external question to being an internal one” (Anish Kapoor cited in: Rainer Crone and Alexandra von Stosch, Anish Kapoor, Munich 2008, p. 22). In the present work, the cave of iridescent stone shapes this void, and the medium of alabaster becomes an agent of imposing presence. Kapoor powerfully builds upon the notion of the void already articulated by modern art history, such as in Kasimir Malevich’s Black Square, which communicates an exquisite gulf of darkness, as well as a similar deliberation upon the tension between “the void of creation and the material object” (Slavoj Zizek cited in: Philip Shaw, ‘Kasimir Malevich’s Black Square’, The Art of the Sublime, London 2013, online).
The concave void central to the sculpture forms a compelling, almost celestial abyss that powerfully captures the observer’s gaze, at once arresting and hypnotising. The artist asserts, “I like the fact that the viewer is implicated in the act of looking… the idea that a work of art can say, ‘Come on, come over here. I can engage you deeply and my space infiltrates yours’” (Anish Kapoor cited in: ibid., pp. 105-106). Thus Kapoor’s audience does not consist simply of contemplative observers but rather embodied participants, who engage with his sculptural works through a unique dynamic of spectatorship. In the present work, Kapoor’s constructed energy pulls one inwards, inviting a sensory, haptic experience. “I have always felt drawn”, Kapoor explains, “towards some notion of fear in a very visual sense, towards sensations of falling, of being pulled inwards, of losing one’s sense of self” (Anish Kapoor cited in: Germano Celant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1998, p. xxxi).
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