Anish Kapoor (b. 1954)
signed and dated 'Anish Kapoor 2011' (on the reverse)
stainless steel and resin
68 x 53 ¾ x 16 in. (173 x 136.5 x 40.6 cm.)
Executed in 2011.
Lisson Gallery, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner

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Kathryn Widing
Kathryn Widing

Lot Essay

"Every piece of sculpture, every drawing, every painting is a kind of chemistry. It’s like an alchemy. What the alchemists did was to allow the various substances they were playing with to be the darkness of death, the brightness of the sun, and all these were, in the final analysis, the forces of the interior." — Anish Kapoor

Existing on the borderline between two realities, the transformative power of Anish Kapoor’s Untitled appears to transcend classification as its mosaic mirrored surface opens to reveal a new world within. The myriad of tiny triangular mirrored surfaces completely refuses any semblance of a traditional reflection. Speaking of his concave mirror works the artist states, “…the interesting thing about a polished surface to me is that when it is really perfect enough something happens—it literally ceases to be physical; it levitates; it does something else what happens with concave surfaces is, in my view, completely beguiling. They cease to be physical and it is that ceasing to be physical that I'm after” (A. Kapoor, Anish Kapoor, exh. cat., Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, 2008, p. 53).
Untitled recalls the artist's most renowned works such as Turning the World Inside Out (1995) exhibited in Kensington Gardens, London in 2010-2011, and Cloud Gate (2004) in Chicago's Millennium Park. Shaped by the artist's ongoing investigation into the power of mirrors to alter the way we perceive and understand objects, Untitled is an inquiry into the real world through a surface that transports viewers into a mysterious and fractured realm.
“It seemed it was not a mirrored object but an object full of mirroredness...” Kapoor has said, “If the traditional sublime is in deep space, then this is proposing that the contemporary sublime is in front of the picture plane, not beyond it this is a whole new spatial adventure. To make new art you have to make a new space” (A. Kapoor, ibid). Almost always invoking the existential vertigo of the sublime, Anish Kapoor's art evokes a powerful sense of mysticism. One of the most famous texts that’s shaped modern aesthetic theory is German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgement. First published in 1790, Kant investigated concepts of aesthetic beauty and the sublime as experienced by the viewer. Over two hundred years later, Anish Kapoor’s sculptures enter into this longstanding dialogue by challenging and pushing Kant’s central concepts to their absolute limits.
The sublime is the name for objects inspiring awe beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation. According the Kant, there is no real object of the sublime, rather, the sublime exists in the viewer’s experience of and relation to the object. In most of his art, and in Untitled in particular, Kapoor further investigates the relationship between viewer and object, “in the mirrored voids [space] is in front of the object and includes the viewer. It's the contemporary equivalent of the sublime, which is to do with the self - its presence, absence or loss. According to the Kantian idea, the sublime is dangerous because it induces vertigo - you might fall into the abyss and be lost forever. In these sculptures you lose yourself in the infinite' (A. Kapoor, Royal Academy of Arts Magazine, Autumn 2009, no. 104, p. 43).
Instead of reflecting from a single angle, like most of his similar concave works, the tessellated surface absorbs the viewer into a distorted world. Perceptual faculties are temporarily suspended by the fractured surfaces’ seemingly infinite reflections which destabilize reality to the point of sublimation. Not quite hanging like a traditional work of art, the convex form appears to float on the wall. As his mirrored sculpture both exists in and reflects space, it seems perpetually on the verge of becoming a negotiation of matter. “I must say I worked quite hard to get rid of the hand, I’ve always felt the hand of the artist is overrated“ (A. Kapoor, In conversation with Nicholas Baume, 2008). The entire surface of the sculpture is sterile and perfect. Nowhere does Kapoor betray the slightest urge to inscribe physical intervention upon his finished product. Influenced by seminal Modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi, Kapoor popularized using highly polished stainless steel and there is no doubt Kapoor was inspired by his legacy. Also inspired by Minimalism’s clinical efficiency, Kapoor further removed his art from the tradition of the handmade.
Through carefully manipulating the physical and metaphysical properties of reflective surfaces, Untitled encourages a reconsideration of the relationship between artwork, viewer and environment. Immediately destabilizing to viewers, there is a cognitive dissonance experienced from seeing oneself from so many angles. But after some time, the pixelated web of triangles becomes an effervescent portal to a distorted universe. In so transforming the world Kapoor's mirror also emphasizes the illusive nature of all appearances and reveals them as a kind of stage or pantomime. In this respect, existing on the edge between two realities and in its power of transformation or of revelation, the sculpture, the object itself, appears to transcend the physical realm and gain an aura of magic or mysticism -- what Kapoor calls an 'oneiric' quality -- that he highly prizes.

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