Art review: Anish Kapoor, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
Monday 20 May 2013
Some of Anish Kapoor's ventures into gigantism have been questionable successes.
Think of the gruesomely entitled ArcelorMittal Orbit, that roller coaster of a blot on the landscape of East London that eventually transmogrified, after a fierce and unseemly battle between aesthetics and mammon, into a spectacular viewing platform for the 2012 Olympics. Is his first major museum show in Germany also an exercise in sculptural muscle-flexing?
Characteristically, the work shifts from the rough to the smooth and then back again. The organisation of the show is intelligent. It is well paced and well lit, and it proceeds through a processional of galleries that encircle the museum's central atrium, where it begins in pure spectacle. 'Symphony for a Beloved Sun' fills that vast atrium with a hanging red disc of a sun, surrounded by long metal chutes up which ingot-shaped slabs of ox-blood-red wax are being carried, gravely slowly. When they reach the top of the chute, they pitch over and fall to the floor, leaving behind disorderly heaps of elemental mess. A significant detail disappoints. Why is the red of the sun so much less rich and visually provocative than it might have been?
Elsewhere, across eleven galleries, we see much that is characteristic and familiar: highly polished mirrored surfaces which play tricks with our seeing; writhing, wormy extrudings of cement. Some specific works are familiar from elsewhere: the cannon which blasts slabs of pigment into the gallery's corner was shown at the Royal Academy in 2009. A monstrous, semi-deflated barrage balloon called 'The Death of Leviathan' has been on view at the Grand Palais in Paris. Everywhere, his use of colour impresses. It has a kind of primal forcefulness. It is never mere surface embellishment. The newest of the new include what look like cut-away sections of the slithery, gaping mess of human bodies, except that they are made from resin.
What do we make of it all? The rough upheapings of extruded clay are exercises in tough-minded unrefinement. They demonstrate that the sculptor is engaged with the muck and the mess of it all, that he is an honest toiler at authenticity's coal face. Quite the opposite are the highly polished concavities and convexities of his mirrored surfaces and orifices. In short, he is a master of the sculptural spectacle. But is he much more than this? It entirely depends upon what freight of significant meaning you decide to load him with.
Until 24 November
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: George Lucas admits he hasn't seen The Force Awakens trailer
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers Age of Ultron 'after credits' scene leaks online days before cinema release
Groundhog Day musical to premiere at Old Vic from Matilda theatre director
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate