How Anish Kapoor Is Teaching Us All to Think Big

By Sands, Sarah | The Evening Standard (London, England), May 11, 2011 | Go to article overview
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How Anish Kapoor Is Teaching Us All to Think Big


Sands, Sarah, The Evening Standard (London, England)


IF YOU are tiring of the prevailing mood of modesty -- simple wedding dresses, Prime Ministers on Ryanair, best-selling books about teeny, weeny netsuke carvings, you could always hop on Eurostar to Paris to see Anish Kapoor's latest work, Leviathan, on show at the Grand Palais.

Kapoor was never one for needlecraft. The British blockbuster artist likes primary colours for primal compositions that speak of infinity. He worships the God of Big Things. Leviathan is an inflatable beautiful monster, barely contained by the high Nave of the Grand Palais. The nearest reference for the work is Kapoor's giant rugby ball-like structure, Memory, which was displayed at the Guggenheim in 2008. But this one is 35 metres high, filling a space that is three times the size of the Turbine Hall, Tate Modern.

Kapoor has everything covered. The internal and external experiences of Leviathan are wholly different. Inside, it is both womb and cathedral-like. The PVC material allows suffusing light through the shadowy roof of the nave. It is seamless and amorphous. Visitors, who at yesterday's launmch included the actress Charlotte Rampling, are reduced to tiny Jonahs. There are chambers within and it is as warm as blood.

On the outside, the surface is hard and ink purple. You cannot see the whole thing at once, so must approach it from different perspectives. This is what it must be like coming up against a whale in the mid-Atlantic. It is gigantic and mystical. As Ishmael said in Moby Dick: "I know him not and never will."

If the rest of British life is cut down to size, Anish Kapoor restores a sense of ambition. He wanders across the world like Prospero, raising tempests.

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