Anish Kapoor

What is behind the enduring popularity of Anish Kapoor's work? His most recent public art piece, ArcelorMittal Orbit, has become a London landmark. But it is the universal language of explorations into colour, form, materials and texture that draw us to the artist's work in this solo exhibition at Lisson Gallery.

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Lisson Gallery celebrates 30 years of collaboration with Anish Kapoor through a solo show of the most recent work from the past year by this Turner Prize-winning artist. This exhibition is displayed in both of the Lisson Gallery's buildings at 29 and 52-54 Bell Street.

Each gallery room provides the visitor with white walled spaces, contrasting with work from the artist. These demonstrate an immediate split between that which is intensely colourful and pieces which are based on earthy tones, and there is also a duality present between textures coarse and smooth.

This body of new work by Kapoor shows none of the waxwork that was seen in his solo show at the Royal Academy in 2009, or the shiny metal pieces that have become recognisable as the artist's style in countries outside of the UK. Instead, the first gallery building focuses on works made in cement, resin and marble dust. These pieces use a simpler palette of grey, beiges, with some pinkish hues and shiny black. These sculptures are sometimes collections of erupting or openings bursting out of the walls which they are attached to, or they are sponge-like creations and free standing explorations of rock forms. In another room, one piece appears to be a meteorite attached to the wall.

Amongst the collection of works in this building are two pieces which stood out for me because of their variance and areas of new investigation for the artist. Primarily, Anish Kapoor's first readymade piece: an engine object containing pipes and gauges. This mechanical sculpture object does not fit well with the rest of the exhibition, and is somewhat incongruous with the remainder of the artist's work in this show. Perhaps that is the point – to demonstrate that the artist is branching out into new unfamiliar areas – but frankly, I was confused by this object.

However, I was delighted to discover another work, highlighted by being completely unlike the other pieces in the exhibition, and this was the stand-out piece of the show for me. In a darkened room sealed off from the other gallery spaces was Anxious, which is both a visual and a sound piece. The viewer stands in the dark room as a circle of light that reveals itself on the concrete floor appears to change shape whilst accompanied by a bass-heavy broken tone. Is the changing material exposed on the floor, combined with the slow waxing and waning movement of light, suggesting some kind of lunar quality in both movement and surface texture? Experiencing this installation piece is uncomfortable, but therefore effective in being memorable and prompting an enquiry into the artist's thought process. This piece particularly felt new, inquisitive and interesting.

The second gallery building displays a number of sculptures made of earth, fibreglass and sometimes resin. These beautiful perfectly-sculpted forms were eye-catching and warrant close inspection of their carefully constructed pointed and curved shapes. Another room nearby houses large bowls stuck to the gallery walls, made of fibreglass and paint. These striking bowls mark themselves out with their strong and bright, playful pigments against the white walls. On venturing closer towards one of these bowls, the viewer is dwarfed by it and spatial awareness is skewed as one is enveloped in colour. Perhaps these pieces will be the most popular of the exhibition.

Anish Kapoor's most recent public art piece is the red stainless steel ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture at the Olympic Stadium which has become a London landmark. Along the same lines, Lisson Gallery's sculpture yard showcases Intersection, a colossal sculpture made of corten steel (which was used for the canopy of the Orbit sculpture). This sculpture, which is both tubular and bubble-like, uses another inviting void as its feature to draw the viewer into possibly peering into it.

Anish Kapoor loves to play with forms, materials and colour. These preoccupations of the artist are ever present in these works, mostly from the past year. There is still that spirited sense of inviting the viewer into the work to gaze into a number of forms including rough erruptions, or smooth voids, concave or convex openings or humps. This interaction between artist and viewer is where Anish Kapoor's strength lies and this exhibition proves that.

So what is behind the enduring popularity of Anish Kapoor's work? The universal language of explorations into colour, form, materials and texture are what draw us to the artist's work. But really, you'll have to go to Lisson Gallery to see for yourself why we want more Anish Kapoor.

Lisson Gallery is proud to announce a major exhibition of new works by Anish Kapoor. Spanning both the gallery’s spaces on Bell Street, London, the exhibition marks 30 years of Lisson Gallery working together with the Turner-prize winning artist and provides an indepth investigation of Kapoor’s most recent work.

The first living artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts (2009), Kapoor was born in Bombay in 1954, and first rose to prominence in the 1980s with his brightly coloured, pigment-coated sculptures. The biomorphic forms of the seminal 1000 Names series soon became an iconic part of his extensive oeuvre, heralding what was to become a three-decade long exploration of colour, form and a fascination with dualities.

Later works saw larger-scale installations negotiating and negating space, sometimes seeming to swallow the ground whole, at other times collapsing in on themselves into a void, or creating a new space hovering between the work and its viewer. Kapoor’s sculptures of the past decade, often made of highly-polished metals including stainless steel, gold, bronze and copper, warp and distort not only the viewer’s vision of them, but the very landscape and environment in which they are sited. 

The mobility of Kapoor’s visual language has been matched by a profound engagement with physical matter – both natural materials including granite and marble, and man-made substances such as wax and fibreglass. Kapoor proposes a complex dialogue between extremes – the earthbound and the transcendental, the colourful and the austere, entropy and the sublime.

Kapoor’s new Lisson Gallery exhibition presents several groups of entirely new works created over the past year. On the one hand, he takes his interest in the transcendental qualities of colour to new levels of luminosity and independent existence. In parallel, he works directly with materials and forms from the earth – mud, cement and metallic pigments.

Germano Celant aptly described Kapoor’s early work as representing a “dialogue between spirit and matter, above and below, masculine and feminine… the duality [in which] the energy of transformation and evolution lies,” This description still holds true in his recent work, while the new work shows the continuing richness of this artistic field of perceptual enquiry for new ideas and forms.

Lisson Gallery

52-54 Bell Street
London Greater London United Kingdom NW1 5DA

Opening hours:

Monday - Friday 10am - 6pm

Saturday 11am - 5pm