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Anish Kapoor at the opening of his exhibition in Moscow. Photo: Kirill Zimogorsky.

Homeland Is Calling 0

Liza Borovikova

An exhibition of Anish Kapoor’s works has opened at the Jewish Museum And Tolerance Center in Moscow. The public can view the works of one of the most famous contemporary sculptors until January 17, 2016.

The Anish Kapoor exhibition that opened at the Jewish Museum And Tolerance Center titled “My Red Homeland” consists of four works. For a retrospective this is not enough of course, but the organizers are trying to show the art of the Anglo-Indian sculptor from the maximum number of angles.

The biography of the 61 year old Anish Kapoor is the personification of the “cosmopolitan” concept: he was born in India (this occasion to have an exhibition in Moscow gives Kapoor an opportunity to remember the presence of his own Jewish roots), then he moved to Britain where he became a well-known artist, nowadays he constantly travels from one capital to the next with new exhibitions. Perhaps this lack of attachment to a particular cultural tradition gave his works worldwide popularity: his space objects don’t look man-made, they are abstract, and that is why each viewer has his own countless associations with them. While trying not to touch upon the sharp political and abstruse philosophical themes, through his sculptures Kapoor explores the relationship between simple but fundamental concepts, such as: between the matter and the void, between the big and the small, between the body and the immateriality, and between movement and tranquility.

Anish Kapoor. Shelter. Photo: Maria Mikhailova

The sculpture “Shelter” represents a deep dish, the inside surface of which was painted a bright yellow color. Glancing at this perfectly smooth surface it is impossible to understand whether you are looking at a hard surface or whether you are looking into another dimension filled with yellow light. In many of his works Kapoor deflates the idea of emptiness: his bowl is not empty, it is full of yellow. The concept of the object that is at the same time a tangible substance and an imagined space can be likened to a Japanese garden. There the plants and the stones can be reminiscent of poetry and prose, of picturesque scrolls, but they are never used in their literal definition. Color plays an important role in a number of the artist’s works, and he recognizes that his interest in dry pigments and clean colors is connected to his native culture.

The second work presented at the exhibition called “My Body Your Body” belongs to a group of Kapoor’s sculptures which were done in a dark-blue, almost black color. From the front we see before us a straight blue rectangle, the middle of which is sinking into the thickness of the wall in a conical funnel. Here again the artist plays with space: the object is there, it can be touched, but at the same time a part of the object is unreachable for the viewer. Is it possible to touch it? Does the funnel end here, at the distance of a stretched-out arm, or does it have no end? And again the artist avoids the effect of emptiness, because in the center of the cone a thick concentrated darkness falls.

Anish Kapoor. S-Curve. Photo: Kirill Zimogorsky.

If in the first two works Kapoor is playing either with bright pigments or with the bluest black (the absence of color), the third work, S-Curve sculpture, is void of color characteristics because it is a bent horizontal mirror. Using a mirror surface is one of the artist’s favorites and one of his most effective methods. Kapoor uses it in his “Sky Mirror” monumental sculptures installed in parks and cities in the USA and the UK. They are placed at the correct angle to reflect the ever-changing sky, which the British artists(beloved by Kapoor) Turner and Constable loved to depict. The most famous monumental sculpture by Kapoor, titled “Cloud Gate”, which is in Chicago’s Millennium Park, also has an impenetrable reflective surface. This enormous rounded mass of an incorrect form is called by the artist “an ideal object for a selfie”.

For Kapoor making new art is making new spaces. In a classical painting space exists on the other side of the canvas, “inside” of it. In Kapoor’s mirror works the space of the artwork is situated in front of the surface of the sculpture, between the audience and the sculpture itself, and it constantly changes with the alternating angles.

Anish Kapoor. My Red Homeland (fragment). Photo: Maria Mikhailova

In the title work of the exhibition “My Red Homeland” Kapoor is working with a clean color but instead of taking the form of dry pigment, the color is presented in the form of oil paint mixed with wax. The red substance forms a circle with the diameter of 28 meters, and the slowly rotating steel beam gradually gives this mass a form. This sculpture that creates itself right in front of the viewer and without a noticeable participation of the artist is the visible illustration of how an action becomes a material object. The red pliable mass is concentrated physicality, like a convergence of flesh and blood.

According to Kapoor, the title is half of the artwork. The words “My Red Homeland” together with the actual work spawn many new interpretations and questions. Which one of Kapoor’s homelands does it mean? Is red a metaphor for life or for a violent death?

Anish Kapoor. My Red Homeland. Press photo

The artist doesn’t give answers. In his public speech before the opening of the exhibition he stated, anticipating all the questions, “As an artist I do not want to say anything. I insist that there is nothing to talk about.” Anish Kapoor is one of the few contemporary artists who refers to the subconscious of the viewer, not his conscious. In order to understand his works, it is not necessary to be well-read or erudite because those sculptures have nothing in common with anything you have ever read, heard or seen. Kapoor’s artworks have an effect on the viewer regardless of his wishes, they appeal to the particularities of human vision, deep fears, the perception of his own body in a space. Therefore before going to see the “My Red Homeland” it is not necessary to go through a thick catalogue. Forget the whole theory of contemporary art known to you and trust your own senses.

Anish Kapoor at a public discussion in Moscow. Photo: Liza Borovikova