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Sir Anish Kapoor

  • Aluminium
  • 1995
  • 3.1 m × 2.5 m x 4 m
  • 200 Front Street West, Simcoe Park, Toronto

About the artwork

Mountains have been a focus of Kapoor’s work for much of the 1980’s and 90’s, often relying on colour and size to accentuate symbolism of the theme. In his work, Mountain, Kapoor plays on the Canadian symbol that is the Rockies. Created with aluminium plate cut via water-jet, the plates are stacked to create this colossal and imperfect construction appearing to have been formed in the natural geological erosion. In the enclosed space that represents the courtyard, surrounded by fir trees, and confronted to the urban architecture of the various adjacent buildings, Mountain creates a natural space to take a breath and experience a moment while being surrounded by the buzzing pulse of the city. Mountain possesses an imposing air of grandeur, an awe-inspiring evocation of seismic forces and tectonic movement.

Kapoor has an ongoing fascination with negative space: “That’s what I’m interested in: the void, the moment when it isn’t a hole, it is a space full of what isn’t there.” The sublime and the infinite are paradoxically present in this nothingness. 

Kapoor redefined contemporary sculpture in the 1980s through innovative approaches to scale, colour, volume and materiality, and by delving into the illusory. Perhaps most famous for public sculptures that are both adventures in form and feats of engineering, Kapoor’s works invite viewers to interrogate their relation to inhabited space. Whether through a seemingly infinite black hole or an impossible reflection, Kapoor confronts our expectation of optical perception, forcing a re-examination of one’s phenomenological experience.

One of the defining languages of Kapoor’s oeuvre is indisputably his manipulation of space, and the mirrored surface as a material in this endeavour can be seen internationally through his major public commissions. These highly reflective works combine an artistic subtlety with a powerful monumentality, contrasting the stillness of a flawlessly polished surface with an ever-oscillating echo of its environment. Each transcends the boundaries of their volume, capturing a metaphorical infinity across an indescribable surface.

About the artist

Anish Kapoor is one of the most influential sculptors of his generation. Perhaps most famous for public sculptures that are both adventures in form and feats of engineering, Kapoor manoeuvres between vastly different scales, across numerous series of work. Immense PVC skins, stretched or deflated; concave or convex mirrors whose reflections attract and swallow the viewer; recesses carved in stone and pigmented so as to disappear: these voids and protrusions summon up deep-felt metaphysical polarities of presence and absence, concealment and revelation. Forms turn themselves inside out, womb-like, and materials are not painted but impregnated with colour, as if to negate the idea of an outer surface, inviting the viewer to the inner reaches of the imagination. Kapoor’s geometric forms from the early 1980s, for example, rise up from the floor and appear to be made of pure pigment, while the viscous, blood-red wax sculptures from the last ten years – kinetic and self-generating – ravage their own surfaces and explode the quiet of the gallery environment. There are resonances with mythologies of the ancient world – Indian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman – and with modern times.

Anish Kapoor was born in Mumbai, India in 1954 and lives and works in London. He studied at Hornsey College of Art, London, UK (1973–77) followed by postgraduate studies at Chelsea School of Art, London, UK (1977–78). He is most recognised for some of his large scale public projects which include Cloud Gate (2004) in Millennium Park, Chicago, USA, Orbit (2012) in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, UK and Ark Nova (2013) the world’s first inflatable concert hall in Japan. Furthermore, he took over le Château de Versailles, in Versailles, France in 2015 and not without controversy. He represented Britain at the 44th Venice Biennale in 1990 with Void Field (1989), for which he was awarded the Premio Duemila for Best Young Artist. Kapoor won the Turner Prize in 1991 and has honorary fellowships from the University of Wolverhampton, UK (1999), the Royal Institute of British Architecture, London, UK (2001) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford, UK (2014). Anish Kapoor was awarded a CBE in 2003 and a Knighthood in 2013 for services to visual arts.

Fun facts

  • Did you know that Anish Kapoor is also the artist behind Cloud Gate AKA the big bean in Chicago?
  • Just like the Yves Klein Blue, Anish Kapoor owns the right to the blackest black ever made.

Engagement questions

  • What do you feel when you look at Kapoor's piece, Mountain?
  • How do you see the mountains in relation to what is around them?
  • What do you think the artist's intentions are?