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Anish Kapoor

Indian-British Contemporary Artist
Born 1954, Mumbai
Lives and works in London

Anish Kapoor is known for his experiential large scale installations, many of which appeal to a large audience base. Initially he worked with smaller installations and sculptural pieces until moving into his highly popular seminal work, but the use of textures and colour pigments has remained consistent throughout. His artistic career has evolved in the UK and found massive impetus in Europe.



Chelsea School of Art and Design, London


Hornsey College of Art, London



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Reinstating the function of art as an experience

Anish Kapoor has consistently maintained for his art to not enter the realms of a theoretical concept or implicated message. Instead he creates pieces that invite an experience, of wonder, awe and an overwhelming response from the individual.
The aesthetics of his work, for instance in Void (#13), the concave surface of the object invites the viewer to look inside, pulling them in an illusionary magnetic feeling inside the object. This generates a lyrical experience, an experience purely based on its aesthetic appeal, and not a conceptual understanding, of what it could mean.

Anish Kapoor, Void (#13), fibreglass and pigment, 63.3 (diam.) x 47.2”.

Inclusive relationship of audience to a piece of art work

Anish Kapoor’s works have been largely accessible to the public in London (his residence and studio location). His works have been extremely popular as well, due to the experiential dynamism in them.
His work addresses a particular notion of art that moves beyond an audience who is visually educated. Because he does away with an agency, the representative quality disperses, and only a sensory quality remains, that allows all kinds of viewership to find resonance in his art.
His solo art exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2009, London recorded the largest attended exhibition in London, till date. This also made him the only living artist to be given the entire gallery space for his exhibition.

Viewers for his work Swayambh, 2007, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Pigments help create a sensual effect in his works

Much before Kapoor moved to monumental works, which are what he is widely recognised for; pigments and bold singular powerful colours have been constant in his works, throughout his career. He uses natural materials like sandstone, marble and slate which are embodied with raw powdered pigment of vivid hues. They elevate the visceral quality of his installations. This feature can also be found in his earlier paintings, which feature a similar band of bold colours.  In Untitled work from 1989, his key style in exploring bold colours and visceral forms can be observed.
The substantial element of colours is also explored, with the each colour and substance marked by it. It can be wax, to coarse powder, or the finished gleam of his art that shares a lyrical tone of prospects on the colour in itself.
This feature can be noted in much of his earlier work, As if to Celebrate, I Discovered a Mountain Blooming with Red Flowers, 1981, to the voluminous piece Yellow, 1999, and to recent works like Shooting into the Corner, 2008–2009.

Anish Kapoor, Untitled, 1989, varnish and graphite on paper, support: 19.685 x 18.8976”.

Anish Kapoor, As if to Celebrate, I Discovered a Mountain Blooming with Red Flowers, 1981, wood, cement, polystyrene and pigment, overall dimensions variable.

Anish Kapoor, Shooting into the Corner, 2008-2009, mixed media, dimensions variable. Exhibited in Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Anish Kapoor, Keriah II, 2014, silicone and pigment, 98.43 x 61.02 x 20.87 inches

Exploring the nature of scale, he re-imagines sculptural installations

The theatricality of Anish Kapoor’s art in the subsequent part of his career is based largely on his monumental sculptural installations. The effective nature of sculpture is derived from its materiality. And because Kapoor envisions mass and its relationship to space in his work, the effect gets multiplied to much higher degrees. The hollowness and the spatial structure of his work, in Dismemberment, Site I, 2003-2009, provides a theatrical element on its own.
He is presenting installations, purely based on its form. The material presence is so overpowering that it begins to adjust spaces that are marked by the presence of art.
His art has featured in public spaces, ventured out from its natural space of exhibition. The spatial dimension of his work has attached itself to public spaces, suited in its own form, with the wide expanse of the outside. Like his Dismemberment piece which was exhibited in Kaipara Farm in New Zealand.

Anish Kapoor, Dismemberment, Site I, 2003-2009, PVC steel 984.252 x 314.961” (west end: 984.252 x 314.961”, east end: 314.961 x 984.252”)

Kapoor is diaspora artists based in the UK since more than thirty years

Kapoor grew up in Bombay in a hybrid home, a Hindu father and Jew Mother, which exposed him culturally to both Israel and India. Coming from such rich cultures, his sculptures do not reflect this. From his early works at the Chealsea School of Art to his recent works exhibited at Lisson Gallery, he has been interested in the scale and skin of objects. The sensualness of materiality is what motivates his works and how that relates to the viewer.

His works are also removed from any influence from Indian arts and aesthetics and that is mainly because he believes that one the subjectivity of the artist is not all that important, he wants to take himself out of the way and two art coming from a non-European background artist has been exoticised which is limiting as it leads to a distraction from the artwork itself.