Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meeting Anish Kapoor

During the summit I had this joyful experience of meeting Anish Kapur in person along with my friends for about an hour, Thanks to my friends, Anshul and Manika (of course to Anshul’s parents as well). It was great to talk to him and he allowed us to take a peep into his process and what goes on in his mind. We were completely overtaken by his charismatic presence and modesty. It was like a dream. Looking at his work and the entire exhibits at NGMA and what I have seen earlier when I had traveled abroad and from what I have read and seen in books, I tended to think that at times his work moves to excess. So talking to him was as if I was back in history of art and aesthetic classroom and learning again. He talked about his approach, the element of play, about scaling, dreaming about form (his pre occupation), what fascinates him in India etc… We had an interesting discussion about bindi and its application in art. He talked about his journey from his early pigment sculptures to mirror-polished stainless-steel work and then the Svayambh’ project and ‘Shooting into the Corner’. It is interesting to see that the creator is also a spectator in the case of these works. The next day Homi Bhabha (Speaker’s forum) observed this aspect of his work and referred to it as ‘actor and spectator’. When he said that ‘the scale is not about the size but the complexity’, I realized that the scale and the overall nature of his work is not about excess -as I had thought earlier- but about this complexity. There is a sense of unfolding and discovering of the form as you approach it and move around and the work grew further as you experience it.

During my days in Delhi, some years ago, alternative art and iconoclasm were something my friends and I often discussed about. The edge and iconoclasm, that was brought by postmodernism and its baby - the art at the turn of the 21st Century, had the ability to challenge the notions of gallery and the convention of its space, ideas and practice beyond image, relooking at the nature and character of the narrative. These were dear to us and unfortunately many work in Delhi seemed to miss it this time. Many artists who were showcased in the summit failed to rise to this level. Instead of challenging the seemingly trendy, works these days seem to be tricked and guided by the gallery or display space. The concept of alternative space, in art, seems to be limited to the alternative physical space than conventional gallery, not changing the given space. The ability of a work to influence it’s surrounding and alter it and be mutually enhanced is its strength and seemed to be lacking in many work. Exceptions are very very rare. What Anish Kapoor could do by throwing wax into the interior of The Royal Academy of Arts to defy any clinically crafted end result and ‘display euphoria’ is what one would call iconoclasm. It is a ‘Duchampian act’ with a twist.

The presence of Anish Kapoor in Delhi- his works and person - has given a great edge to the City and interesting appeal to its art circle in January. It was fantastic to meet the artist and listen to him. The conversation between Homi Bhabha and Anish was the biggest draw of the first of the speaker’s forum at the Summit. The 3rd edition Art Summit may eventually be remembered most for this.

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