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Monochrome (Black/Cobalt Blue)

Monochrome (Black/Cobalt Blue)
signed and dated ‘Anish Kapoor 2015’ (on the reverse)
fibreglass and paint
73 5/8 x 73 5/8 x 15 ¾in. (187 x 187 x 40cm.)
Executed in 2015
Galleria Continua, San Gimignano.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2015.
San Gimignano, Galleria Continua, Anish Kapoor: Descension, 2015.
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. Cancellation under the EU Consumer Rights Directive may apply to this lot. Please see here for further information.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Director, Senior Specialist

Lot Essay

With its deep, dark void spanning nearly two metres in diameter, the present work is an outstanding example of Anish Kapoor’s concave monochrome sculptures. Standing before its cavernous surface, the viewer is enveloped into a world of total blackness: a seemingly infinite abyss whose tonal qualities bend and shift with the changing light. Executed in 2015, the work belongs to a series of similarly-titled sculptures created during the mid-2010s. Each defined by their own distinctive hue, these creations extend the artist’s lifelong fascination with colour’s abstract experiential properties, forming a dense, pigmented counterpart to his effervescent mirror sculptures. Deep, dark space has always been an integral theme to Kapoor’s work, and in 2021 a new body of void works, executed in material using nano-technology, will be unveiled at the Galléria dell’Academia during the next Venice Biennale.

Several of Kapoor’s Monochrome works, including the present, were unveiled at the Galleria Continua in San Gimignano in 2015. There, they took their place alongside the artist’s seminal 2014 Descension: a motorised circular whirlpool whose swirling, dark depths offer an intriguing kinetic counterpart to the present work. Throughout his oeuvre, Kapoor has been fascinated by the idea of the void, seeking for his works to transcend the physical world. Informed by a number of Eastern philosophies—including the concept of ‘svayambh’, meaning ‘self-generated’ in Sanskrit—his works reference nothing outside the fact of their own existence, confronting the viewer as independent, immaterial entities. Though conversant with Minimalist thought and practice, works such as the present ultimately look back further to Romantic notions of the ‘sublime’: the fearful sense of awe that humankind experiences in the face of the infinite. This idea is particularly pronounced in Kapoor’s black monochromatic works, whose seemingly boundless inky depths demand from the viewer a total submission to the unknown.

Since his earliest experiments with raw pigment during the 1980s, Kapoor has been entranced by colour. Over the course of his practice, he has sought to present it as a ‘total condition’ in and of itself—an all-encompassing abstract state, rather than an extension of the representational world. ‘[Colour] changes space, especially very intense monochrome’, he explains. ‘It’s as if it creates more space’. In this regard, he continues, it should be experienced like any other physical condition—an object might be ‘red’ in the same way that a shower is ‘wet’ (A. Kapoor, quoted in video for Anish Kapoor: Descension, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano 2015). Like Kazimir Malevich, Pierre Soulages and others before him, Kapoor treats black as a source of infinite potential—a deep, rich zone of chromatic possibility. Here, it is neither the colour of the night sky, nor the bottom of the ocean, but rather a law unto itself—a mystery that humankind has yet to solve.

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