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Artist Profile1
A spotlight on the world’s most significant, India-born contemporary artist
One of the world's most recognized contemporary artists, Anish Kapoor is known for his usage of rich pigment and imposing works like the giant reflecting, pod-like-sculpture in Chicago's Millennium Park; the vast, fleshy and trumpet-like Marsyas at the Tate's Turbine Hall; and his recent record breaking showcase at London’s Royal Academy. His unique style coupled with rich Indian heritage have combined in his practice to make it one of the most distinctive and engaging expressions in the world by a contemporary artist. A decade or so older than most of the Young British Artists, who happened to take the art world by storm in the early 1990’s, his sensibility remain markedly different. The highly talented and recognized artist prefers gentle seduction to shock tactics.

The fact that the artist did not begin life in a Western culture has probably aided many of his projects. His sculptures often emphasize on perception and purity, enacted in three-dimensional space. They tend to carve, color and complicate space in many different ways, imparting interactive aspects and pushing that purity back & forth between votive and technological, East and West. Celebrating his achievements, The Telegraph UK writer Florence Waters, underlines the fact that he has saved his best for India. The columnist notes: “One of the most influential sculptors of his generation, he may owe much of his inspiration to Indian culture and color.

Anish Kapoor is based in London since the early 1970’s, when he left India originally to become an engineer like his father, studying in Israel. He only took up art seriously when he arrived in the UK to join the Hornsey College of Art (1973-77) followed by graduation at Chelsea School of Art (1977-78). He fast emerged as an artist with a unique character and style. His usage of unusual materials (like the brightly colored pigments he started using after a visit to India in 1979), juxtaposed with an innovative, non-Western visual idiom helped to establish him as one of the most talented sculptors in the UK. By 1985, he had had solos for major galleries in Rotterdam, Liverpool, Basel Lyon, Paris, London, and New York. In 1990, he received the Turner Prize and a year later, he was chosen to represent Britain at the prestigious Venice Biennale, where he bagged the Premio Duemila prize for the best exhibit. He was awarded Honorary Doctorate at the London Institute in 1997, and an Honorary Fellowship at Royal Institute of British Architecture in 2001.

He has exhibited extensively all over the world during the past two decades, including solos at Kunsthalle Basel, Tate Gallery and Hayward Gallery, London; CAPC in Bordeaux; Reina Sofia in Madrid; and most recently Haus der Kunst, Munich. He has featured in many international group shows at the Whitechapel Art Gallery; Serpentine Gallery in London; Documenta IX, Kassel; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Jeu de Paume and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and The Royal Academy. His latest commission is to conceive the glorious new public attraction, entitled ‘The ArcelorMittal Orbit’, in the spectacular Olympic Park. The breathtaking sculpture will comprise a continuous looping lattice of tubular steel.

The internationally applauded artist is showcasing his milestone works for the first time ever in India. Until now, he has never had a show in the country, nor does any public art collection possess his works. This is the first ever display of his wonderful oeuvre in the country of his birth, making it a special moment in his illustrious career. True to his reputation, it’s one of the largest and most ambitious showcases ever to be hosted of his extensive body of work, including a selection of installations and sculptures that span the breadth of his illustrious career. There are some truly spectacular works composed of fibreglass and reflective stainless steel. He revealed during a recent media interaction: "I’ve wanted to put on a show in India for decades. But I have struggled to find the right space. My works are enormous and also very fragile, so they do not travel easily from my studio in London."

Echoing his views, co-curator of the exhibition and head of visual arts at the British Council, Andrea Rose, stated she and Anish Kapoor first went to India a decade ago and had been searching for exhibition spaces ever since. The fact that the Turner prize-winning sculptor is taking his art to India has aroused much curiosity in the UK. Summing up the mood, Maev Kennedy of The Guardian notes: “One of the most spectacular pieces from that show, a cannon that fires large blocks of wax into a corner of the gallery, gradually producing a slaughterhouse scene of blood red splodges, is among those being installed in Delhi. It then moves in Mumbai, where he was born in 1954. All the pieces were designed and partly constructed at his studios in London.”

The series presented by Indian Ministry of Culture along with British Council and Lisson Gallery at the NGMA, Delhi and the Mehboob film studios, Mumbai highlight a different strand of the world renowned artist’s practice. Each show presented in association with Louis Vuitton complements the other to give a holistic picture of the diversity and energy that marks his oeuvre, including the works at the recent, record-breaking show at London’s Royal Academy. On view are his pigment-based sculptures of the early 1980s right through to his most recent eloquent wax installations. According to the artist, his work has drawn on forms from his memories of India. He cites Jantar Mantar in Delhi, and the Elephanta caves in Mumbai as particular examples of key influences.” Incidentally, he is critical of the country’s contemporary visual culture, and the manner in which it is perceived internationally. According to him, post-Independence, the museums in India were trying to form an idea of what an inherent visual context might be, but it remained ‘full of clichés – the ones we’ve bought into’. "

“A return is always going to be difficult – quite frightening, actually. I still have many relatives there and I hope they will approve," the artist said, summing up his sentiments on the eve of his significant India show.