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Anish Kapoor at Haus der Kunst in Munich
Anish Kapoor, Svayambh, 2007. Installation view Haus der Kunst. © Jens Weber, Munich.


MUNICH.-The London-based artist Anish Kapoor created a new work specially for Haus der Kunst as part of his first comprehensive solo-exhibition in Germany since showing 1991 at the Kunstverein Hannover and 1996/1997 at the Kunst-Station Sankt Peter in Cologne. Anish Kapoor has created a new work specially for Haus der Kunst and in response to its monumental architecture. The title of this piece and of the exhibition relates back to the Sanskrit "Svayambhu(v)" meaning self-generated or auto generated.

"Svayambh" is a deep red, wax-like block that will be moving almost imperceptibly along a set of tracks, which reach from one end of the entire eastern galleries to the other. Its appearance which is reminiscent of a train can be related back to Kapoor’s fascination with Andrei Konchalovsky’s film "Runaway Train" (1985), where two escaped convicts and a female railway worker find themselves trapped on a train with no brakes and nobody driving. Creating a red line through the building, "Svayambh" passes through two doorways, which form and seemingly force the block through their restrictive frames making it leave behind smeary traces of its material: a mixture of Vaseline, paint and wax.

This enormous red mass reminiscent of compacted blood evokes an almost apocalyptic image. Interestingly a red heifer or "parah adumah" notably adom means red and dam means blood in Hebrew is often associated with the Apocalypse in Judaism. "Svayambh" can be seen in direct correlation to a further site-specific work, a "wound" or slit of about 1,5 m that Kapoor will carve directly into a wall. Images such as these carry even greater connotations in a building with such a difficult history as the Haus der Kunst’s.

There has always been a tension in Kapoor’s work between the complexity of the eye’s perception and the roughness of the body, the organ’s inner life, as well as between the made and the unmade, between roughness and refinement, all of which are forces of nature. In Kapoor’s work materiality is of the essence, though always in connection with a notion of presence and spirituality that go beyond the objects’ superficial "matter of factness". "Material somehow always leads on to something immaterial” as Kapoor has put it. He sees this as a fundamental contradictory yet complimentary condition of the material world. These dialogic contrasts become particularly apparent in Kapoor’s public sculptures over the recent years. Despite their often monumental proportions, a sense of atmospheric sensuality and even sexuality is evoked through organic shapes and spheres. Such biomorphic formations are increasingly found in contemporary architecture and Kapoor himself has been involved in several architectural projects – "Descent into Limbo" for documenta IX in 1992 being one of the earliest examples. He recently completed a project for a subway station in Naples with the architect collective Future Systems and his collaboration with structural engineer and writer Cecil Balmond on the awe-inspiring "Marsyas" for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall is well known.

The show gives an extensive overview of Kapoor’s ouvre including also early works such as "1000 Names" created between 1979 and 1981, a group of floor-based objects that are covered in pigment of either red, yellow or white as well as more recent works.

"Yellow" (1999), for instance, threatens to engulf the visitor with its large-scale concave yellow wall. Even newer works are "S-Curve" (2006), a 10 x 2.5 m polished steel work that through its undulating s-shape reflects the viewer several times over, and "C-Curve" (2007) that mirrors but also bends the reflected images of the beholder and their surroundings. Both appear to be almost cinematic, giving the impression of being in a film.

Most recently Kapoor has been working on a series of mirrored as well as opaque spheres in various colours that are fixed to the wall at different heights. Furthermore, Anish Kapoor will be producing a limited edition with Edition Schellmann.





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