'Art is illusion. It is in that illusion that there may be some deeper reality.' (A. Kapoor in conversation with R. Cork, Institut Français, London, December 12, 2007.)
From his earliest works of the late 1970s when he used vibrant coloured pigment to bestow enigmatic sculptural forms with a disquieting sense of mystery and ambiguity, Anish Kapoor has been fascinated by the mysterious power of colour to transform and even redefine the way we perceive and understand objects. In Blood Cinema of 2000, Kapoor extends this fascination into the realm of the cinematic through a sculpture that uses a transparent film of colour to completely alter the world around us into a strange blood red realm.
Taking the form of a giant lens-like structure nearly two metres in diameter Blood Cinema at first appears like a spherical red vortex within the space of the room in which it sits. In this respect the sculpture, like many of Kapoor's works, has a strong impact on both the space and the architecture into which it is placed. Drawing the viewer towards itself through the mesmeric effect of its rich colour and its circular form, the work then appears to open up a new world within itself, transforming the space of the room and any objects, figures or events that appear behind it into a strange, almost operatic melodrama all rendered in a field of red.
Red - the primary colour for Kapoor - the invigorating colour of life and the earth - bestows the scene with a vibrant, vital but also strongly visceral atmosphere - a quality that in recent years has grown increasingly pronounced in Kapoor's work. The title of the sculpture in some ways reflects this viscerality being both slightly ghoulish in nature as well as an accurate description of the sculpture's function.
In transforming the world behind its red aperture, Blood Cinema also emphasizes the illusive nature of all appearances and revealing at the same time the world as a stage or pantomime. In this respect, existing on the borderline between two realities and in its power of transformation or of revelation, the sculpture, the object itself appears to transcend the physical realm gaining an aura of magic or mysticism - what Kapoor has called an 'oneiric' quality that he highly prizes.
Like many of the more ambitious works that Kapoor has made in the 21st Century Blood Cinema is a sculpture that also demands the physical co-operation and participation of its viewer in order to be fully appreciated. Like Barnett Newman demanding that, in order to receive the full spiritual impact and intention behind his work, the observer should view his work from a specific point, many of Kapoor's latest works also demand a 'performance' from the viewer. 'If you perform they perform' Kapoor has observed. (ibid.)
Germano Celant has written: 'The earth is the dance floor for a wealth of 'I's' performing the mythic dance, bearers of spirit moving according to a frantic rhythm. No two beings are alike: each has his own inimitable identity, each is a psychophysical quantum, each projects outside himself a life or body drawn from the cosmic reservoir, from the void and nothingness that surrounds us.' (G. Celant, Anish Kapoor, exh. cat, Milan 1996, p. 30)
Almost always invoking the existential vertigo of the sublime, Kapoor's art, as well as his sense of performance, evokes a powerful sense of mysticism. Using illusion, the vertiginous fear of the sublime and the seductive transformative power of colour, sculptures like Blood Cinema are persuasive in the way in which they mythologize the world and invest it with a Romantic sense of mystery and meaning. This mystery, often achieved solely through the apparent emptiness of simple abstraction, in turn invokes a profound sense of an innate spiritual unity underlying the veil of Maya - that thin and permeable screen-like surface of phenomenal reality on which the fleeting illusions of life are said to appear, like images at the cinema.