The idea is to question what is physical and what is transcendental. This is essentially what all artists do—it’s the principal and methodological goal of art.
– Anish Kapoor
Kukje Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Anish Kapoor from August 30 to October 22, 2023. The exhibition will be installed in all three buildings (K1, K2, K3) at Kukje Gallery's Seoul location, providing a comprehensive selection of Kapoor’s diverse practice, including sculptures, paintings, and drawings.
Widely acknowledged as one of the most visionary artists of the 21st century, Anish Kapoor’s major exhibition in Venice last year introduced another chapter in his innovative practice, proving yet again this seminal artist's critical importance and creative genius. In Venice, Kapoor’s new paintings—a part of his practice that has been of increasing focus in recent years—were exhibited alongside his iconic black works, a juxtaposition that highlighted the artist's capacity to push both the material and conceptual limits of visual art. For Kapoor, the black works intersect with the history of how paintings function, as for the artist, "painting is the history of how things are made to appear. I’ve set out to do the exact opposite. How do you make things disappear?"
This approach to presenting paintings and sculptures together will also frame the exhibition in Seoul, where the artist will utilize the three distinctive architectural spaces at Kukje Gallery, introducing new dialogues and propositions between these works that emphasize the centrality of the body across the diversity of his practice. While containing a vast array of materials and abstract gestures, the entire show hums with the sublime intensity of life itself, an energy and formal command that Anish Kapoor is synonymous with and that emanates across all the works on view.
Beginning in K3, Kapoor will install four monolithic sculptures that defy categorization. Delicate gauze barely contains the bulging material mass that makes up these heaving objects, which suggest both geological formation and visceral anatomical form. Pigmented in the dense red and black that Kapoor is famous for, two titles of the works contain suggestive allusions to their inspiration: Shadow and Ingest.
In K2, a selection of Kapoor’s oil paintings distills the vocabularies and mediums that infuse the show. Visually powerful and explosively expressionistic, the abstract works rendered in oil paint, fibreglass, and silicone, present raw embodied states of being that suggest both bloody guts and efflorescence. In these works, the paint seems to be strewn across the canvas, and we sense in these depictions physical matter that has been subject to extreme forces—blurring the inside and the outside and suggesting Kapoor's ongoing concern with the porous boundaries of the body.
These themes are continued in more discreet ways in the artist’s gouache works on display in the front window gallery of K1. Smaller in scale, many of these works on paper contain a void within the visual chaos suggesting a door or window. This geometric illusion of a porthole is something Kapoor often utilizes in both his sculpture and paintings, compelling the viewer to project into the work and insisting on the instability of the body vis-a-vis its environment.
A similar phenomenon is engaged within the black works in the rear gallery. Pigmented in Kapoor's signature black, the distorted geometry of these objects embodies a psychological space pulling the viewer into their vertiginous aura. The black pigment absorbs not only light but also sound, as they sit silently, enclosed in their skin. Despite the deep calm Kapoor's black works convey, the absorption of form that this unique material manifests is no less brutal than the raw red imagery of the paintings. As the edges of the object dissolve before our eyes, it becomes a skinless object, evoking a primal and destabilizing effect. This capacity of the object to contain both absence and presence is a leitmotif of Kapoor’s practice. Through pushing the limits of the material he works with, Kapoor explores the creation and disruption of the object and by extension challenges the viewer's sense of bodily autonomy, capturing a state of "in-betweenness" that is evocative and deeply poetic.
About the Artist
Anish Kapoor was born in Mumbai, India in 1954 and lives and works in London and Venice. His recent solo exhibitions include those at Gallerie dell'Accademia di Venezia and Palazzo Manfrin, Venice, Italy (2022); Modern Art Oxford, UK (2021); Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning, Shenzhen, China (2021); Houghton Hall, Norfolk, UK (2020); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany (2020); Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2019); Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum and Imperial Ancestral Temple, Beijing, China (2019); Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal (2018); University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC), Mexico City, Mexico (2016); Château de Versailles, France (2015). He represented Britain at the 44th Venice Biennale in 1990 with Void Field (1989), for which he was awarded the Premio Duemila Prize, and won the Turner Prize in 1991. His works are permanently exhibited in the most important collections and museums internationally, and many of his public artworks have become iconic landmarks around the world.