Anish Kapoor’s first major solo exhibition in Turkey features works that have never been seen in public before.
“Anish Kapoor in Istanbul” opened on 10 September 2013 at the Sabaki Sabanci Museum (SSM) and will run until 5 January 2014. The London-based Indian artist is showing never-before-seen stone sculptures in his first solo exhibition in the emerging art capital of Istanbul, a city with an age-old affinity for stone.
On 10 September 2013, world-renowned artist Anish Kapoor (b. 1954, Bombay) unveiled never-before-seen stone sculptures in his first major solo exhibition in Turkey, titled “Anish Kapoor in Istanbul”, on show at the Sabaki Sabanci Museum (SSM) until 5 January 2014. Curated by art historian and curator Sir Norman Rosenthal, previously Exhibitions Secretary of London’s Royal Academy of Arts, and organised in collaboration with Akbank for its 65th anniversary, the exhibition is the museum’s first show featuring a blue-chip contemporary artist.
In the press release, SSM Director Dr Nazan Ölçer said about the exhibition:
… Anish Kapoor is no stranger to Istanbul, where he has been to many times. Now here he is, bringing to our city stone pieces that he has been working on for years, many of which have never been displayed. Along with the stone pieces, iconic works such as Yellow and Sky Mirror are presented in our exhibition.
The latent sexuality of Kapoor’s sculptures
Talking to Sarah Bolwell of RA Magazine, Kapoor says that although the works span decades of his career, this show is not a retrospective but rather an exhibition of what he would call “a semi-latent body of work.” He goes on to say, “I’ve always believed in latent bodies of work – works that don’t necessarily need the public view. They can feed the other work, with the public face.” The stone sculptures, mostly preserved in his open-air stoneyard in London, are now shown inside the galleries at the artist’s request, bringing the public in closer dialogue with the works. According to Kapoor, “stone sculpture often gets shown outside. But even if it’s big it loses its scale.”
This so-called “latent body of work”, however, seems to have another less latent aspect to it, which the artist describes to RA Magazine as “too forward, too sexual, too heavy… slightly extravagant.” Indeed, some of the sculptures, such as Sophia or With a Past present discernible sexual symbols. These are balanced out with the more subtle, inevitably maternal character of other works, like the protuberant pregnant form of Imminence, or the more delicate wavy maternity evoked in Grace.
Infinity set in stone
Kapoor is most widely known for his large scale works made of brightly coloured fibreglass and polished stainless steel, such as Chicago Millennium Park’s public monumental sculpture Cloud Gate and the above-mentioned Sky Mirror and Yellow, both on show in Istanbul. For this exhibition, the artist has shifted the focus to his unseen stone sculptures in marble, alabaster, granite and other rocks, which he has been working on for more than 25 years.
The emphasis is on traditional craft, the relationship between human form and natural materials, and the timelessness of the resulting sculptures. Sir Rosenthal, in the press release, talks about how these works demonstrate an effortless agelessness:
What is especially remarkable about Anish Kapoor’s abstract stone works, which form the focus of the exhibition, is that they have their own specific ways of defining infinities and the concepts of time. When one looks at the stone sculptures, executed over the last three decades – works fashioned from marble, onyx, alabaster, granite, sandstone and other ‘rocks’ – many perspectives concerning the realities and philosophies of historical time come to mind. They invite the viewer to reflect three-fold on the mysteries of time buried within their form and substance. Kapoor is one of the only artists who follows the most ancient traditions, of carving or shaping, in order to achieve contemporary forms, each one full of individual and suggestive meaning. Perhaps the most particular aspect of so much of Kapoor’s work, and especially of the stone works, is a sense of agelessness, of hardly being able to guess at their moment of creation.
In-between two cultures, the city of stone
Anish Kapoor specifically chose Istanbul as the venue for his solo exhibition, a city that has been named as one of the emerging art capitals in the recently published Art Cities of the Future: 21st Century Avant-Gardes. As the multicultural artist reveals in a video interview with Agence France-Press (AFP), the timeless city of Istanbul – historically a gateway between the West and the East, sitting at the tip of Asia Minor, and a cradle of traditional craft, ancient stone architecture and historical sights – just seemed as the appropriate backdrop for a show that focuses on the medium of stone sculpture.
Watch AFP’s short video interview with Anish Kapoor on youtube.com below or click here.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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