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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Anish Kapoor

b. 1954, India

One of the most influential sculptors of his generation, Anish Kapoor is widely recognised for his monumental public works and installations that often incorporate reflective surfaces and curvature as well as unconventional sculptural mediums like water. A preoccupation with voids, the body and the relationship between man and his surrounding environment further characterise his works.

Emerging as a sculptor in the 1980s, Kapoor's use of pure pigment and traditional materials such as limestone and wood aligned him with a group of young artists—among them Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Antony Gormley and Shirazeh Houshiary—known as the New British Sculptors. Kapoor gained recognition for his biomorphic works, notably As if to celebrate, I discovered a mountain blooming with red flowers (1981). Created for the exhibition British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century. Part 2: Symbol and Imagination 1951–1980 (1981–2) at London's Whitechapel Gallery, the sculpture consists of three groups of geometric forms made from wood, cement and polystyrene, and covered in pure pigment that spills over the floor. Each shape references the human physique: the three-peaked mountain in red as the body; the pair of red ellipsoids as breasts; while the boat-like form, the only yellow object of the group, suggests movement. Kapoor derived the first part of the title, 'As if to celebrate', from a Haiku poem, and the rest came from a Hindu myth in which a goddess is born out of a mountain of male gods' bodies. Several of his early sculptures, seemingly rising out of the floor or wall and coated with saturated pigments, underscore his preoccupation with blood and female anatomy.

In the following decade, Kapoor's sculptures progressively grew as he began to explore the idea of the void by constructing forms that contain cavities or disappear into the floor or wall. In the sculpture Void Field (1989)—presented at the 44th Venice Biennale and for which he was awarded the Premio Duemila Prize—the top surfaces of sandstone blocks are pierced with a hole and filled with black pigment. Contrasting the mass of the blocks with the voids within them, Kapoor explored the tensions between presence and absence, being and non-being, and internal space and darkness. Kapoor later multiplied the scale of the void with Marsyas (2002)—commissioned for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern—by creating a hollow, trumpet-like structure out of red plastic membrane that extended over the monumental gallery space.

From the mid-1990s onwards, Kapoor increasingly used mirrored surfaces in his works, as in the three concave, stainless steel discs of Her Blood (1998), which are presented on the floor or on the wall and reflect their environment from different angles. A later work such as Blood Mirror (2000) similarly consists of a stainless disc, featuring red in its lacquered and highly polished surface. The simple concave shape in both works appears to be a void from a distance and becomes activated when the spectator steps closer to it, contorting reality to subvert his or her sense of perception.

Throughout Kapoor's works, there exists a sense of theatricality—one that requires audience participation to complete its experience. In conversation with Ocula Magazine in 2016, Kapoor said, 'There is something about the performative in a work, where the work almost switches itself on as you enter its space. I think it's terribly important because that's a conversation between a viewer and an object.' Enacting this performativity is his 'Non-Object' series of 'twisted' stainless steel sculptures that invite the spectator to walk around them and study the constantly morphing reflections. Similarly, Ishi's Light (2003)—an ovoid shell with a fibreglass exterior and a lacquered red interior—opens partially to allow the spectator into its space. The concave forms in both 'Non-Objects' and Ishi's Light seek to engage the participant's senses both optically by projecting distorted reflections and aurally by amplifying sound within their parameters.

Kapoor's public sculptures are celebrated for their monumental sizes and spectacular feats of design and engineering. In 2014, he created Descension, commissioned by the Public Art Fund for the Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, an unconventional sculpture made of infinitely swirling water. Like many of his other works, Descension provides an aural experience as the water spiralled in and out of the ground. ArcelorMittal Orbit—completed in 2012 for London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park—has become one of London's most popular attractions for its view of the city from the 115-metre-tall tower made of red tubular steel. Cloud Gate (2004)—dedicated to Chicago's Millennium Park in 2006—exemplifies Kapoor's brand of spectacle through simple forms. The 110-ton stainless steel sculpture, nicknamed 'the Bean' for its resemblance to an upturned bean, enchants the public with its seamless surface that draws both the spectator and the environment in to become a part of its perpetually shifting reflections.

Born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, Kapoor has been living and working in London since the early 1970s, where he studied at Hornsey College of Art (1973–77) and Chelsea College of Arts (1977–78). A Turner Prize winner (1991), Kapoor has recently exhibited at Lisson Gallery, London (2017); Kukje Gallery, Seoul (2016); Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City (2016); Château de Versailles (2015); Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2010); and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2008). Selected international group exhibitions include Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014); 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2009); Gwangju Biennale (2004); Shanghai Biennale (2001); Biennale de Lyon (2000); and Venice Biennale (1993, 1990, 1982). In 2009 he was the first living artist to be given a solo exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Elected a Royal Academician in 1999, Kapoor was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2003 and knighted in 2013 for his services to visual arts.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Split (Oriental Blue to Burple) by Anish Kapoor contemporary artwork Anish KapoorSplit (Oriental Blue to Burple), 2017 Stainless steel and lacquer
88 x 88 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler
Yellow Rising by Anish Kapoor contemporary artwork Anish KapoorYellow Rising, 2018 Series of 7 etchings
72.5 x 96.5 cm
Glisten (Garnet to Pagan Gold satin) by Anish Kapoor contemporary artwork Anish KapoorGlisten (Garnet to Pagan Gold satin), 2018 Stainless steel and lacquer
126 x 126 cm
Lisson Gallery
Bridge Twist by Anish Kapoor contemporary artwork Anish KapoorBridge Twist, 2016 Stainless steel
60 x 64 x 64 cm
Lisson Gallery
Mirror (Oval) by Anish Kapoor contemporary artwork Anish KapoorMirror (Oval), 2018 Stainless steel
119 x 81.5 x 9.5 cm
Kukje Gallery
Mirror (Brandy Wine to Laser Red mix2 to Brandy Wine) by Anish Kapoor contemporary artwork Anish KapoorMirror (Brandy Wine to Laser Red mix2 to Brandy Wine), 2018 Stainless steel and lacquer
131 x 131 x 17.5 cm
Kukje Gallery
Untitled (Red Solid) by Anish Kapoor contemporary artwork Anish KapoorUntitled (Red Solid) Lacquered bronze
12.5 x 36 x 36 inches
Beyer Projects
Untitled (Blue Solid) by Anish Kapoor contemporary artwork Anish KapoorUntitled (Blue Solid), 2006 Aluminium and lacquer paint
12.5 x 36 x 36 inches
Beyer Projects

Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Reflections on Space and Time at Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
Open Now
1 April–11 May 2019 Group Exhibition Reflections on Space and Time Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
Contemporary art exhibition, Anish Kapoor, Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery, London
15 May–22 June 2019 Anish Kapoor Anish Kapoor Lisson Gallery, Bell Street, London
Contemporary art exhibition, El Anatsui, Anish Kapoor and Jannis Kounellis, A Journey at KEWENIG, Berlin
9 September–11 November 2017 El Anatsui, Anish Kapoor and Jannis Kounellis A Journey KEWENIG, Berlin

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Ocula Conversation Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Founder, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo started collecting contemporary art in 1992, after graduating from Torino University, where she studied business and economics. She began her collection with four works from the late-1950s and early-1960s by Italian artists: Carla Accardi, Tano Festa, Mario Merz and Salvatore Scarpitta. 'I enjoyed the idea of...

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One belt, one road, one  biennale: Yinchuan's stand against cultural desertification Ocula Report One belt, one road, one biennale: Yinchuan's stand against cultural desertification 1 Nov 2016 : Sam Gaskin for Ocula

Over 70 artists from 33 countries are represented in the inaugural Yinchuan Biennale, which opened amidst scandal on 9 September 2016. Not included is a work by Ai Weiwei, who was invited to take part alongside other art stars Yoko Ono and Anish Kapoor before being disinvited just weeks before the opening.In a tweet, Ai connects the...

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Anish Kapoor Ocula Conversation Anish Kapoor Artist, England

Anish Kapoor’s large-scale artworks are among the most recognisable on the planet. A tenacious affinity for drama, form and curvature characterise his sculptures, which hold court in public spaces, collections and public art institutions around the globe. Born in Mumbai in 1954, the artist is best known for his works which use curved metal,...

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Top 5 booths at Art Busan 2016 Ocula Report Top 5 booths at Art Busan 2016 31 May 2016 : Angela Suh for Ocula

Located a stones throw from the famed Haeundae Beach, popularised in Korean cinema and countless K-dramas, Art Busan 2016 conveyed a leisurely air brought on by the first warm days of spring. Now in its fifth edition, the fair has grown into a sizeable event showcasing some of the best works in the region. With over 190 participating galleries...

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In Related Press

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Sculptor Anish Kapoor Blasts NRA’s ‘Nightmarish Vision’ Related Press Sculptor Anish Kapoor Blasts NRA’s ‘Nightmarish Vision’ Frieze : 13 March 2018

In 2017, the National Rifle Association in the US broadcast a controversial video advertisement, 'The Clenched Fist of Truth', which warns of liberal America's threat to freedom. In it, a brief scene details Anish Kapoor's 2004 steel doughnut-like sculpture Cloud Gate at Chicago's Millennium Park. Now the artist has released an open letter in which...

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One of the world’s greatest sculptors warns America about the NRA Related Press One of the world’s greatest sculptors warns America about the NRA The Washington Post : 12 March 2018

Last year, the National Rifle Association released its now infamous 'The Clenched Fist of Truth' video in which a brief clip of Anish Kapoor's sculpture 'Cloud Gate' appeared as a stand-in for Chicago and the city's most famous recent resident, Barack Obama. As NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch chanted in a hypnotically angry voice, 'they use their...

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Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović lead major new exhibition Everything At Once at Store Studios Related Press Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović lead major new exhibition Everything At Once at Store Studios The Vinyl Factory : 8 September 2017

This October, Store Studios will host Everything At Once, an extensive off-site exhibition featuring 24 artists currently shown at Lisson Gallery in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

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Anish Kapoor causes a stir in New York Related Press Anish Kapoor causes a stir in New York Apollo Magazine : 5 July 2017

When a local art group lures an international superstar like Ai Weiwei to its birthday celebrations, that's impressive. New York's Public Art Fund (PAF) has done just that to celebrate 40 years of commissioning artists to make site-specific pieces for New Yorkers to enjoy. Returning to the city this month, Ai Weiwei says: 'I never expected this...

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In Related Video

Installation video of Anish Kapoor: Gathering Clouds at Kukje Gallery Related Video & Audio Installation video of Anish Kapoor: Gathering Clouds at Kukje Gallery Kukje Gallery : 7 October 2016

Titled Gathering Clouds, the exhibition will showcase sculptures that reflect his mastery of formal investigation and material science. This will be his third exhibition at the gallery following previous shows in 2003 and 2008. Spanning two gallery spaces, K1 and K3, the exhibit will include two unique yet related series that together further...

Anish Kapoor, 'Descension' at Galleria Continua, San Gimignano Related Video & Audio Anish Kapoor, 'Descension' at Galleria Continua, San Gimignano Galleria Continua : 30 June 2015

Internationally acclaimed as one of the most significant contemporary artists, Anish Kapoor returns to Italy with Descension, an exhibition project conceived specially for the former cinema and theatre space of Galleria Continua in San Gimignano. The heart of the show is the installation in the stalls area, Descension, from which...


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