Anish Kapoor at Manchester City Art gallery

I went to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Manchester City Art Gallery over the weekend.  Really stunning work – and it was nice to see work spanning a number of decades. 

Key things to look out for are;

  • COLOUR: The way he uses colour which is quite unusual for a sculptor where making art is primarily about shape and form.  He integrates the 2 in stunning ways.  His use of pigment, not to colour surfaces, but as a material in its own right is fantastic.  The pureness of pigment gives you an experience of that colour that is total.  It draws you in and captivates you in emotion and tactility.  It’s like a gateway to an inner world.
  • SURFACE: Be aware of the surface quality of his sculptures.  They can be deceptive, ambiguous and more complex that you might think.  He talks about the ‘skin’ of an object in the video that plays in the education room.  This is something he seems to like playing with to great effect.
  • AMBIQUUITY:  The ambiguity of form and space is explored quite a lot.  When approaching sculptures you need to spend time with them for their true nature to reveal themselves to you.  Does a sculpture recess or protrude?  Is the pigment painted on the surface or is there a hole cut into it?  Where does the form start or finish?  Reflection and light are used to create form just as much as solid objects.
  • SENSITIVITY: Anish Kapoors sensitivity to form, colour, texture, surface and emotion is beautiful.  It’s no wonder that his early critics, when first seeing his work, thought it was created by a women.
  • SCALE: His use of scale is effortless.  He has this ability to create works with the utmost integrity on a small scale to vast scale without any diminishing the impact of what he is about as an artist.  
  • VIDEO: Take the time to watch the 55min video.  It really is enlightening and gives you a glimpse into the truly large scale sculptures he has made that use stretched pvc, etc and interact with the natural landscape or built environment equally well.

One of the things I found interesting is when he talks about going to places he doesn’t understand when creating new work – going into the wilderness – to find a new way of understanding.  And he wants his viewers to go through a similar experience when viewing his work. 

This is an idea close to my heart when teaching on my Creative Art Courses which this year are taking place at Heaton Park in North Manchester.  How to convince students that in order to learn new skills and new appreciation and understanding you have to go through a part of the course when you feel lost and sometimes unsure as to what you’re doing – feeling lost in the wilderness.  However uncomfortable this may feel (as we all love to stay in control) it is so important a part of the learning experience.  This is when students need to trust the tutor to be able to lead them to a new level of understanding or mastery of a new skill.

Visit www.creativeartcourses.org for information about the courses I teach.