Anish Kapoor
India, 1954
Born to a Hindu father and a Jewish mother, Anish Kapoor broke off his engineering studies at eighteen to dedicate himself exclusively to art. A year later, in 1973, he moved to England where he studied at the Hornsey College of Art and later at the Chelsea School of Art. Several pieces from this period focus on the question of human existence, its androgynous essence and the absence of the body, ideas that would be crucial to his subsequent development as an artist. Between 1979 and 1985, following a profoundly influential visit to India, he developed the project 1000 Names. The installation consisted of several piles of pure pigment—he referred to them as “sculpture-paintings”—with which he attempted to create a collective portrait and construct what he called a “mental landscape”. During these years, he also experimented with other ephemeral installations and sculptures, using a diverse range of materials and giving increasing importance to the cavity or void. Towards the late eighties, he began working in stone as exemplified by Void Fields—presented at the Venice Biennale in 1990—an installation comprising sixteen, immense, sandstone blocks. He has since used this material on many occasions, often in combination with pure, intense pigments. He has also added highly polished metals, such as aluminium or bronze, to his material repertoire, creating sculptures with mirrored surfaces that offer a distorted view of reality. The theme of duality extends throughout his entire body of work: presence and absence, corporeality and intangibility, light and darkness. By evoking sublime moments that invite introspection, his emphatic, immersive artworks elicit states in which we suspend our individuality to reflect on the essence of human existence. His work has gained an enormous following, turning his many exhibitions into immensely popular events. As a result, he has received several, ambitiously scaled public commissions around the world, often in collaboration with architects or engineers. Orbit, created for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, is amongst the most remarkable pieces of this kind. Not only can the spectator contemplate the immense steel structure, but they can also enter and move around inside of it. The artist lives in London.
Ferran Barenblit