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Anish Kapoor

text Francesca Lombardi

September 6, 2023

Anish Kapoor on show in Florence

At Palazzo Strozzi from October 7, 2023 to February 4, 2024, the works of the Indian artist who transcends materiality

This autumn Palazzo Strozzi celebrates Anish Kapoor, the colossus of contemporary art who has revolutionised the idea of sculpture. Curated by Arturo Galansino, Director General of Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, the exhibition creates an original and engaging dialogue with the building’s architecture and audience.

Anish Kapoor

Palazzo Strozzi becomes a place both concave and convex, simultaneously whole and fragmented, in which visitors are invited to doubt their own senses. A distinguishing characteristic of Kapoor’s works is their way of transcending their material nature. Pigment, stone, steel, wax and silicone, to name just a few of the materials he uses, are manipulated, sculpted, polished, saturated and treated, calling into question the boundaries between plasticity and immateriality.

For Kapoor, colour is not merely substance and shade, but becomes an immersive phenomenon with its own volume, at once spatial and illusory. These are not so much works as genuine universes to be explored, combining emptiness and fullness, absorbent and reflective surfaces, geometric and biomorphic forms. Kapoor investigates space and time, interior and exterior, inviting us to explore the limits and potential of our relationship with the world around us and reflect on dualisms such as body and mind, nature and artifice. Difficult to define, it would be reductive to place Kapoor in aesthetic or conceptual canons: whether we like his work or not, he shakes up the soul, causes anxiety and disquiet, invites introspection.

Born in Mumbai in 1954, Anish Kapoor has lived in London since the mid-70s, studying at Hornsey College of Art and Chelsea College of Art. He currently lives and works in London and Venice. His works are displayed in important permanent collections and major museums all over the world, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Tate in London, the Fondazione Prada in Milan and the Guggenheim Museums in Venice, Bilbao and Abu Dhabi. His connection with Tuscany dates back to 2003 and his exhibition Ascension at Galleria Continua, a large-scale installation that subsequently toured the world, including the Venice Biennale.

Ascension 2003-2015 Galleria Continua, San Gimignano (Courtesy: the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA ; Photo by: Ela Bialkowska)

The following year saw Aima, a permanent installation at Castello di Ama. “In Castello di Ama’s chapel a luminous circle opens in the centre of the floor, a small-lighted pit. Fire and light. A precious substance, indefinable certainly, and as misleading…” Kapoor’s own description is almost a poem.

Aima, Castello di Ama (Courtesy: GALLERIA CONTINUA ; Photo by: Ela Bialkowska)

In 2005, inside the Torrione di Sant’Agostino in the ancient city wall of San Gimignano, the artist conceived his installation for the 10th edition of Arte All’Arte: cement, stone and a magical location are the ingredients Kapoor uses to create Underground, a huge organic form that fills, but does not overfill, the space.

Underground, 2005 Torrione di Sant’Agostino (Photo by: Ela Bialkowska OKNO Studio)

With this work, Kapoor seeks to convey the idea of an enormous chrysalis in which we see, from one moment to the next, the explosion of new life, a birth. 2015 and 2018 saw two more exhibitions at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano: the first a solo show entitled Descension; the second with Daniel Buren, Daniel Buren & Anish Kapoor.

Descension Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, 2015 (Courtesy: the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA ; Photo by: Ela Bialkowska)With Daniel Buren, A sei mani, Galleria Continua (Courtesy: the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA ; Photo by: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio)

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