Anish Kapoor: Barbara Gladstone Gallery

Article excerpt

As sculptural object, the cube has been done to death--it's a tired emblem of modernist purity and autonomy--but there is something different about Whiteout, 2004, the large white cube in Anish Kapoor's recent show: It seemed oddly vacuous. Like a doubting Thomas, I touched it, and lo and behold, there was nothing to touch: My arm went right through its "side," into a void. I had been blind to it, but when my arm was in the sculpture I was able to discern that its surface was concave--an oddly lingering inward curve. Looking around the gallery, I realized that curvature, however varied, informed the small stainless-steel sculptures that clung to the floor, and also "structured" a black sculpture cut into a white wall. Putting my arm into this, I experienced an odd vertigo, as though I were being drawn into an abyss.

The tour de force of the exhibition was Carousel, 2004, a towering sculpture, luminous and Minimalist-looking, the epic formality of which was disturbed by the reflective stainless steel that covered its circular base and top and, more crucially, by the inwardly curving void "around" the white tower centered between them. If, as Robert Pincus-Witten has argued, post-Minimalism "actively rejects the high formalist cult of impersonality" that reaches its climax in the "inert withholding stolidity" of Minimalism, Kapoor's sculptures ingeniously reject impersonality by using stainless steel to mirror the viewer, implicating her in the work while distorting her appearance so that she seems invested with personality or "metaphysicalized," transformed into something more mysterious than a banal physical presence. …