Archive for March 21st, 2013

Anish Kapoor exhibition

anish_kapoor_12Today I visited the Anish Kapoor exhibition at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). This photo is just to give some context and local colour for those who don’t know Sydney. The MCA is right by Sydney Harbour. This is the old part, originally the Maritime Services Board building and opened in 1952. There’s a new part to the right, opened in 2012. Shown on the lawn is Sky Mirror (2006).

anish_kapoor_01I found it hard to get involved in the works. In the exhibition catalogue Elizabeth Macgregor, Director of MCA, writes that Kapoor “raises questions about our place in the world with work that can provoke an emotional or even a spiritual response.” For me at first it just brought back memories of visiting the Luna Park mirror maze as a child. I found all the reflections cold, impersonal and rather tricksey – all very clever perhaps, but clever physics and manufacturing.

anish_kapoor_02anish_kapoor_03anish_kapoor_04I tried spending longer with a piece, looking at different angles, up close and at a distance, trying to get under the surface. I became aware of sound as well as light. This dish has a whispering gallery effect, and as people moved around me I could hear snatches of conversations. A school group surrounded me and it got very noisy! Stepping back I started watching the students, their fascination, their experiments with the reflections.

anish_kapoor_09Watching people interact with the work was really interesting. They went into all sorts of postures, made faces, lay on the ground, pointed and laughed at each other. The school groups were the most exuberant, as you’d expect, but people young and old were really getting into it and enjoying themselves. Which rather brings me back to the amusement park – but why should that bother me?

anish_kapoor_06As well as the polished steel there were quite a few pieces that used pigment to create luscious, featureless, hard-to-read surfaces. This is a detail of Oracle (1990-2002), a large sandstone boulder with a precise rectangle cut in and coated with pigment. It is penetrable, unending. The catalogue entry references duality – “… place, nothingness, presence, absence, being and transcendence… an abyss within a solid form…”. Perhaps with some distance of time and reflection consideration I will feel some connection – or some anything – but today it felt like an extremely well-executed magic trick – smoke and mirrors (!), with no true depth or meaning.

anish_kapoor_08Here’s some more of that luscious pigment in Void (1989). Lots of carefully calculated optical illusions.
Another form of optical play used scale. One large gallery was filled by Memory (2008), made of Cor-Ten steel. Approached from a different direction there was a window to the inside, pitch black and a wonderful echo chamber.

anish_kapoor_13My Red Homeland (2003) uses 25 tons of paraffin wax which contains a red pigment. I wanted to be drawn in, to think through metaphors of carving, dividing, reforming, blood, the motorised blade and the finger marks in the piled wax – but I got caught up in mechanics and logistics.

A final photo is below – S-Curve (2006). It’s kind of cool that I can be seen twice taking the photo, one side on my feet, the other on my head. “Kind of cool” – not what I expected or hoped for from this exhibition.

Anish Kapoor is part of the Sydney International Art Series 2012-13.

Macgregor, E. (2012) Introduction. Anish Kapoor. Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

[Note: I want to reference the exhibition catalogue, and thought it would be [anon.] as author as it seems to me unlikely that the artist wrote the text, but from the information on referencing in the OCA student resources I gather the following is correct.]

Kapoor, A. (2012) Anish Kapoor. Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia


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March 2013

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