When I Am Pregnant
Mixed media
Dimensions: 31.7 x Ø 127 cm
Reference: ACF0350
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Influenced by Eastern as well as Western and Jewish culture, Anish Kapoor’s work reveals a constant determination to unite opposing ideas. That desire is present in the subtle dialogue between the two works included in this collection. The first, which the artist has not given a title, presents us with a heavy cube of marble of considerable size, which is almost in its most primitive condition. The five visible sides are in the same state as when the material was taken from the quarry, before burnishing. On one of the faces, the artist has hollowed out a small cavity whose interior is polished. In that way he establishes an opposition between the hard block of marble, whose edges do not seem to have been defined by him, and the void of the space that he has so clearly created. The second piece, When I Am Pregnant, is to a certain extent opposed and complementary to the first. To make the work Kapoor carried out a direct intervention on the room where it was to be shown. On one of the walls he fixed an object to which he later applied the same materials as the original wall—plaster and paint—with the aim of achieving a uniform finish. The result is very similar to the stomach of a pregnant woman, and it is surprising insofar as it also plays with our expectations of seeing a work of art hanging on the wall, with no alteration to its usual forms. Moreover, the title of the piece opens the door to a game of equivocation, since the word ‘pregnant’ is not morphologically gender-specific. Like most of Kapoor’s works, both pieces require the viewer to make an effort of interpretation. The apparently limited set of symbols of which he avails himself does not reveal any definite meanings with an immediate, univocal explanation. His intention is rather to suggest a series of vague sensations that convey a state of mind to the viewer. He himself believes that his role is not ‘to create expression’ but ‘to be expressive’ and that he ‘does not have anything particular to say.’ The first result of that intention is the existence of a large number of interpretations in the face of work that is as ambiguous as it is rich. He believes that through that multiplicity of readings it is possible to reach a ‘poetic existence’, the true ultimate goal of his creation. Furthermore, his works oscillate between the straightforward artistic result, which makes them objects that can only be analysed formally, and their intellectual category, charged with metonymy. In his work from the 1980s, Kapoor usually painted the hollows he made in the stone with bright primary colours. With that practice, which linked up with Hindu traditions, he aimed to enter into the notion of presence, suggesting a defined idea through those strong hues. However, in the first of these works the interior of the cavity remains white and shining, overcoming the dialectic between painting and sculpture which was established when the two media were brought together. That is how he seeks to signal the absence of boundaries and refer us to the concept of the infinite. In these two works we find a clear reference to the androgynous, a concept Kapoor frequently explores in his creations. The feminine is to be found in the concave form—the symbolic womb of the untitled piece—and in the idea of motherhood in When I am Pregnant. Paradoxically, we can find the masculine in the convex form of this work. The projecting surface of the wall is established as opposed to the vaginal cavity, completing it and closing the circle it proposes. Just as in the other anthropomorphic forms in his repertoire (the breasts in 1000 Names), in these works he wants to tackle birth, perpetuity and, in short, the idea of events that are repeated according to an established order. The pair of opposites put forward here thus aims to transcend the perception of duality: creation and destruction are there at the same time. An artist with a strong interest in investigation, Kapoor maintains an attitude towards sculpture that can be summed up by quoting his own words: ‘There is a history in the stone and through this simple device of excavating the stone it’s just as if a whole narrative sequence is suddenly there.’ He wants the discovery of the history hidden in the rock—in the world—to depend on us, and so the work remains totally open in terms of its meanings.

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