james debate
james debate

Tuesday 29 September 2009

I was fortunate enough to see the big new show at London's Royal Academy of Arts last week before it opened to the public, Anish Kapoor.

anish kapoor

Artist and Royal Academician Anish Kapoor has always been known for his unconventional work. His new exhibition explores fragility and altered perception, performance art and tactile pleasure. It's lighthearted and in places just plain silly.

Highlights include a yellow wall that looks flat at first glance, but upon getting closer you see that it in fact has a deep void sinking into the wall. It's a wonderful optical illusion that leads quite handsomely into his room of mirrors, which include some very imaginative designs, for example, one round mirror on the wall actually makes you look like you're moving further away as you walk closer, others show enlarged crystal clear images of you, whilst distorting your surroundings in a clever way of shifting focus.

But without a doubt the weirdest installations, and the ones that will be the main talking points among art patrons are his wax playthings. The entirety of one room is dedicated to a large (and phallic) catapult that shoots giant pellets of wax into the wall, building up over time on the wall and floor.

As if that was not enough, an entire three rooms has been set aside and fitted with a train track, on which a massive 40 ton red wax train moves slowly up and down, sloughing off layers of wax every time it passes through the archways that divide each room. The piles of rough wax strewn across the floor has a certain physicality to it that's almost irresistible not to touch.

But ultimately, it's not just enough to look at pretty, shiny objects and oddball constructions of wax, one has to wonder what the actual meaning behind any of this is. And at times, one gets the impression that here is an artist obsessed with pretentious spectacles, with only the flimsiest of subtext.

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