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Bright and Shiny: Anish Kapoor at De Pont

On December 30, 2012, Maarten and I went to see the exhibition on Anish Kapoor at De Pont, museum for contemporary art, in Tilburg.

Anish Kapoor

I have seen work of him before, maybe only on photo's or tv (like his monumental work Leviathan for Monumenta 2011, this link is worth checking out, trust me!), maybe irl too, but only became conciously aware of Anish Kapoor last summer, watching this documentary. It was late at night, I was cuddling Aafje on the couch and didn't feel like going to bed, so I switched on the tv. And there was this artist with his shiny artwork with both industrial (finish) as well as organic (shape) aspects to it, talking about the relation between art and philosophy. Food for thought! I started taking notes but couldn't keep up. Some of the things I jotted down:

  • According to Anish Kapoor, the language of art like his, that doesn't represent something in reality, needs to be philosophical. Scale, space, time are aspects of that. Experiencing art can do something to your experience of time. "To make art you have to make new form, new space, new time".

  • There is no innocence in our interaction with the world and each other. Objects are never innocent.

  • He speaks of recognizing a third presence, which makes me think about Descartes on seeing clearly.

  • Art as a philosophical object or mathematical object.

A couple of months later I heard about the exhibition. I asked Maarten if he would come along. Wilma had some unused traintickets laying around so off we went.

When I open my eyes

We haven't visited De Pont before and start with looking at another exhibition, When I open my eyes, photo's of the IJsselmeer by Wout Berger. Dreamy photo's of water and sky. The horizon more or less in the middle of each photo. The differences between them depend on the light and the wheater and are quite subtle at times. Berger took the photo's from his bedroom window, it made him look more consiously of his view. A bit like us and the hundreds of photo's we took of the sky seen from our livingroom in the past six years.

Permanent Collection

Next up is the permanent collection, mostly located in small spaces. A varied collection, Maarten remarks. Most of it doesn't appeal to me. Some of the works I do like instantly are those of Jan Andriesse (Regenboog, a large work with pastels, and Veldmaarchalk Erwin Rommel bij de wolhokken) and Angela Bulloch (Night Sky: Saturn North from Earth, I want it to hang on my bedroom ceiling!) I like the idea of Where and when? by Sophie Calle, makes me think of blogposts I write about outings and vacation days.
Trough a pitch-dark corridor, rounding corners, we arrive in a little room with James Turrell's Wedgework III. My eyes have to adjust to the scarce light to be able to see it, even though I'm usually quite good at seeing in the dark. Very subtle. It works estranging, like stepping outside the world, outside time.
I pass by a guided tour for kids. The guide was engaging them in thinking about a definition of art in a playful manner. Large as the building may be, it's pretty crowded. De Pont has had a record amount of visitors that weekend: over a thousand a day. I wonder how much of these works are meant to have a meditative effect on the viewer, which now gets lost in the livelyness all those visitors generate. The visitors are varied but, as can be expected, most of them are white couples in their 50's and 60's, driving expensive cars.

Anish Kapoor - The Exhibition

Every half our a loud BANG sounds trough the building, followed by people laughing off their tension of waiting for it and the shock they had when it came. Minutes beforehand people crowd into a room and stand behind a line. Tension builds. A huge air-pressure cannon starts hissing. More tension, inside the cannon and amongst the crowd. BANG! The cannon shoots a ball of red wax into the corner. It splats apart. Despite knowing what will happen, people gasp or shreek when it happens and then laugh at themselves before the group disperses. It's an attraction. I wonder how much of what the artist means by it gets trough to the people enjoying the show. How many of them give any thought to that? They can read about it, off course, but to what extent does an artwork like this speak for itself?

An untitled work, made in 1994/1995. Rough limestone with a finely polished hole in it. I recognize Kapoors style, even though it is placed away from his other work. It has a primeval feel to it. strong. In my head, I hear a sort of low, deep humming when I look at it.

In the largest part of the hall, works with mirrored surfaces are placed, like S-Curve and Vertigo. People intercact with them, investigate how the shapes of the objects deforms their mirrored image, cameras are clicking. An exhibition like this is almost unthinkable without allowing visitors to take photo's, now that everyone carries around a camera in their phone. In this case, it enhances the experience by adding to the interaction. We join in the fun. Distorted mirrors, not in a carnival or on a fair, but in a museum. What is it that sets them apart as art? Putting them into a museum-context? The materials used? A girl uses them to rearrange her hair, a somewhat intimate scene in the large hall. I think these works are pretty close to getting people to interact innocently with them, no matter what Kapoor says.

Large objects with shiny bright shapes that make me think of ears, like Slug and I Have Places Like These, You Have Places Like These. Their surfaces and colours remind me of cars.

Mounts of cement. These didn't appeal to me.

A white pregnant belly sticking from a white wall (When I am Pregnant). I photograph it from different angles, zoom in, and out again. It makes me think about how a work like this is partly determined by the wall it is placed on and its surroundings. Would this be the same artwork, placed in another museum, on a larger or smaller wall?

A hole in the ground, sans hobbits (Descent into Limbo). It seems endlessly deep, which it isn't.

And several rounded, deeply coloured objects. You can sort-of step inside of them, which makes for an intense experience of colour. The outside is white, therefor the colour on the inside pulls you in. The colours are even, but due to the rounded shapes they seem more intense in some places than in other. Maarten suggest to paint all surfaces of our livingroom blue, ceiling, floor, not just one wall.

I really enjoyed it. Before heading home we scored Magnum hot chocolate at the trainstation.

I have made it a point to only post photo's of this exhibition that focus on visitors experiencing the art, not of the art in itself.

Geplaatst op 20-04-2013.
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