Anish Kapoor. Guggenheim, Bilbao. 27-03-10

Castellano Euskera English Français Guggenheim Bilbao Anish Kapoor, Yellow, 1999. Fibreglass and pigment 600 x 600 x 300 cm Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery, London Installation: Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2007-08 Photo: Erika Ede © FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa, 2010

I missed the retrospective exhibition of Anish Kapoor’s work at the Royal Academy so I was very excited when I turned up outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao and saw the posters advertising his exhibition there. He is one of the world’s most popular sculptors and it is easy to see why. His pieces are interactive and playful, often full of deep surface primary colours or silver gloss. Standing in front of one of his black holes or the work Yellow from 1999, a giant circle placed on the wall which seems to disappear backwards into it also has the power to stop you in your tracks, draw you in, and make you think. He is able to be delightfully entertaining and thought provoking at the same time. No wonder people like his pieces. He has been making large scale public works for a long time now as well as gallery pieces and so far there seems no limit to his artistic ambition or his talent. He has been working in London since the early nineteen seventies pursuing his ideas and developing them without ever becoming stuck or predictable and we have been lucky to have him.

Anish Kapoor White Sand, Red Millet, Many Flowers 1982 101 x 241.5 x 217.4 cm

I did miss the drama of  Svayambh, the large work which was so dramatic at Burlington house (even on television you had a glimpse of its power) but this was still an interesting and well deserved survey of what he has been doing during a long career. The little group of pigment covered sculptures were delightful, marrying a childlike delight in pure colour to beautifully accurate and intricate form. I loved the silvery curved mirror pieces too, instantly becoming an eight year old again in front of them, moving around to see myself reflected from different viewpoints and trying to work out how I could distract the two assistants who were guarding them and watching me like a hawk while I whipped out my camera. One of the earliest pieces, one that I think I remember seeing at the Tate, was a tall stone box with a hole cut into the upper part of one side so that you could look through into the blackness inside and wonder. Two huge half tennis ball shapes covered in matt black achieved the same effect, as satisfying as looking at the horizon allowing your eyes to wander into them without limits. As well as these still pieces there were pieces creating a different drama out of movement. Nothing was happening in the present, but when I looked at the paint gun and the red splodges on the wall that it had left, or the large round piece where a long pole had moved in circles to create a form in the centre of the gallery space out of a mass of soft red paint, there was a kind of drama in retrospect. The large concrete sculpture, Greyman Cries, Shaman Dies, Billowing Smoke, Beauty Evoked , a mass of grey uniform tubes which were once soft, piled haphazardly onto pallets, is disconcerting. You wonder what they are and why they are there and very few of the answers that you come up with are pleasant.

A complete delight. Anish Kapoor has an astonishing vision which only seems to get bigger and bigger. I wonder where it will all end…………


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