Invigilating 3 rooms, 8 hours a day, 6 days a week: Anish Kapoor Retrospective
Awarded 'The Breese Little Prize for Art Criticism - Volume VII' 2013
Joint 1st Prize
'Written in an apparently freewheeling diaristic style, its humour and lightness of touch are deceptive...This is heady stuff'
-Patricia Bickers Art Monthly
“Excuse me can you explain what the machine in the other room is? Is it art?”
“Sure, well it’s a replica, or an example of the factory engine which was used to plop-out these biomorphic concrete sculptures in this room. It produced them. You see. I suppose it’s about blurring creative dualities, natural with man-made. And the black hole in that wall there which looks flat, but actually isn’t? Well, that leads to the engine’s tube, connecting both rooms. It’s as if the concrete dollops were excreted out from it!”
“Ah so it’s ‘found art’ then, I see”
This line of questioning persists; “Can you explain this sculpture to me? I don’t get it...what is it?..”.
If I’m honest, which I’m not just yet, I don’t really know myself. Not that I don’t feel I understand, but that I’m not sure it’s still relevant or refreshing. It feels tired in places, usual artificial processes denoting organic matter. Same universal contrasts. More expensive materials. A gift to the gallery, for supporting him all these years, up until the sacred power house he is today. They’ll sell every piece though (except for that hole in the wall). In fact if some vengeful God decided to destroy the gallery for profiting from the ‘immaterial’, but in his impish ways allowed only ONE piece in the room to be saved and only I could adjudicate, (seeing as I’d spent the most time around them; and because it’s my wish after all). Without doubt I would choose the hole. Obviously this would piss off the collectors, but for me it’s the best piece. I like seeing people’s reactions, similar, but no less rewarding, hesitantly wondering; bickering with a partner, until one bravely puts their hand in. It’s a scene of genuine curiosity, rarely available to adults and closer to the Kapoor brand of mysticism.
Tuesday. I like this room. Singular dishes, ‘Voids’, are mounted on walls; air brushed, each one hosting a different colour. They appear to float from afar like portals, but as you approach one and peek inside it engulfs and all sense of three dimensional form disappears. Collectors arrive and are devoured in them. Each disc has a different effect on me, which I can’t help but relate to past renowned Western painters. This perhaps is the real illusion to their brilliance:
Blue: The upbeat understudy to Yves Klein’s “IKB-54″, like diving into a Hockney ‘Splash!’ and never coming up for air, just floating inside the canvas. This is where I go to escape the coldness of the room, jumping into a thousand resort brochures where everything is preserved in sun burnt promises.
Yellow: This is tilted on the wall, to resemble a sun emerging. Hence it's name, ‘sun rise’. But it’s too bright. I feel like my imperfections are exposed as it judges me. A Sun God burning wildly. A man driven to madness in ‘The Yellow House’. It’s a sickly yellow and Mondrian has just vomited his palette into the bowl.
Purple: Popular among visitors, luxurious and wealthy, I'm wrapped in a Sultan’s blanket. Also has an acoustic effect which transforms your breathing into a crisp rip of oxygen.
Plum: My personal favourite, feels like when you close your eyes and all that remains visible are the blood pumping vessels. If you stare long enough it becomes black nothingness, as if you are consciously sleeping, or unconsciously awake. Either way I think it’s great. Believe Rothko once made a painting with similar effect, but that doesn't mean much to me right now.
Wednesday. A field group of well kept mature ladies arrive, a prominent clientel for this exhibition. They approach a corner in the gallery which contains aggressive black markings taking on an oval shape in-between the walls; “...and so in this corner here... called, ‘dirty corner’...is him taking control away from the gallery as he makes his mark with black spray-paint”
(Two approach me) “What do you think of this? Do you like his work?”
“Yeah elements of it, though it has quite traditional concerns with illusion and dualities. Like this corner which merges masculine expression with female imagery”
“You think? What does it represent to you then?”
“This corner, to me...” (I can feel myself burning up in premature embarrassment. Was hoping they wouldn’t ask) “...represents...” (Six of them are gathering, surrounding)...“to me, a lady’s, erm... vagina”.
It feels like I’ve just said that to my mother, times six.
“Ooh look you’re blushing now!”
Kapoor can still impact