'I believe very deeply that works of art, or let's say things in the world, not just works of art, can be truly made. If they are truly made, in the sense of possessing themselves, then they are beautiful. If they are not truly made, the eye is a very quick instrument... The idea of the truly made does not only have to do with truth. It has to do with the meeting of material and non-material... (A) thing exists in the world because it has a mythological, psychological and philosophical coherence. That is when a thing is truly made' (A. Kapoor, quoted in S. Gaché 'Interview with Sherry Gaché', Sculpture, February 1996, p. 22).
'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' (A. Kapoor, quoted in A. Kapoor and H.K. Bhabba, Anish Kapoor, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1998, p. 27).
Exquisitely rendered from a monumental block of solid alabaster, Untitled, 2008, is a transcendent example of Anish Kapoor's on-going sculptural enquiry into material, space, and form. Towering over the viewer, the magnitude of the immense double-concave sculpture is a testament to the grandeur of the natural alabaster and Kapoor's remarkable craftsmanship in his ability to transform the roughhewn stone into a perfected rendered double hollow vessel. In Untitled, Kapoor excavated the alabaster to such a delicately fine degree as to create the effect of lustrous translucence; allowing suffused light to radiantly glow through its solid alabaster. Circumnavigating the monumental work, the roughhewn exterior reveals a smooth, polished interior, highlighting the beaming double globe of alabaster at its core. Extending from the artist's on-going enquiry into the unique essence and the transformative quality of sculpture, the immense alabaster stone demonstrates Kapoor's skillful manipulation of space and the materiality stone.
The undulating quality of the globular interior within the concavity of Untitled evokes the circular quality of Kapoor's best known mirror works. Invoking a sense of circularity and wholeness, the spherical form, accentuating itself against the smooth recesses of space, fills the vacant space of the block with the non-material essence of light. The excavated spherical void evokes the womb. As Germano Celant suggests, 'the circle is also the uterus, the holy enclosure, locus of the Great Mother, primary element of creation and reproduction' (G. Celant, quoted in Anish Kapoor, London 1996, p. xxxv). Carving a portal-like void into the stone in such a way that the translucence of the alabaster is allowed to shine, Kapoor in effect fills the empty interior of the alabaster with the non-material essence of light. This pregnant emptiness in turn generates a pervasive and mysterious sense of the void that lies inherent within all things - even, as this work demonstrates, at the heart of the most dense and solid of materials such as stone.
Kapoor first encountered alabaster when he travelled to Italy with the Italian art dealer Massimo Minini. Upon visiting the ancient Etruscan towns of Volterra, San Gimignano, Brescia, and Carrara, Kapoor was inspired not only by the strong Italian tradition of stone carving, but also the translucent quality the alabaster took on in natural sunlight. It is through the act of sculpting that Kapoor engages and extends beyond not only the history of the sculpture, but also the materiality of the stone itself. 'There is a history in the stone', Kapoor has said, 'and through this simple device of excavating the stone it's just as if the whole narrative sequence is suddenly there... I'm trying to formulate a notion of a resident narrative. I'm not in the business of setting out to reveal, that doesn't interest me... at the end of the process... there occurs... a very technical thing and a very strange thing, all at once... It's the way in which the stone is not stone, the way the stone becomes something else, becomes light, becomes a proposition, becomes a lens...' (A. Kapoor, quoted in A. Kapoor and H.K. Bhabba, Anish Kapoor, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1998, pp. 27-29).
Drawing out the innate radiant glow of the alabaster, the translucence of the stone allows sunlight to seep through, invoking an ethereal glow. In transforming stone into light and articulating the rounded features of the sculpture through the light, Kapoor effectively enacts a work of alchemy actively demonstrating the transmutability of the solid material and the symbiotic relationship that exists between material and space, solid and void. 'The void is not silent,' Kapoor has said, 'I have always thought of it more and more as a transitional space, an in-between space. It's very much to do with time. I have always been interested as an artist in how one can somehow look again for that very first moment of creativity where everything is possible and nothing has actually happened. It's a space of becoming... 'something' that dwells in the presence of the work... that allows it or forces it not to be what it states it is in the first instance' (A. Kapoor, quoted in A. Kapoor and H.K. Bhabba, Anish Kapoor, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1998, pp. 35-36). When presented in a circular double hollow as here in Untitled, Kapoor's use of the void performs like that of a portal into another way of seeing - one that highlights and gives voice to an active phenomenon inherent within the material itself.