Anish Kapoor opens new exhibition at Central Academy of Fine Arts & the Imperial Ancestral Temple in Beijing
14 October 2019
Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Museum: 25 October – 5 January 2020
Taimiao Art Museum of Imperial Ancestral Temple: 10 November - 28 December 2019
This November, celebrated British artist Anish
Kapoor will open a major solo exhibition in Beijing at the Central Academy of
Fine Arts (CAFA) Museum and Taimiao Art Museum of the Imperial Ancestral
Temple, by the walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing. As Kapoor’s first solo
museum show in China, the exhibition will present some of the artist’s most
significant and celebrated works of his last thirty-five years – with powerful,
self-generated installations at CAFA Art Museum and sensorial, geometrical
sculptures at the Taimiao Art Museum of Imperial Ancestral Temple.
This exhibition is curated by Academic
Consultant Fan Di'an (President of China Artists Association and the Central Academy
of Fine Arts), together with Artistic Director Su Xinping (Vice President of
the Central Academy of Fine Arts), Chief Curator Zhang Zikang (Director of CAFA
Art Museum), Curator Wang Chunchen (Deputy Director of CAFA Art Museum),
Curator Yue Jieqiong (Executive Director of Taimiao Art Museum), and Curatorial
Advisor Hans Ulrich Obrist (Director of the Serpentine Galleries, London).
Developed over a number of years, this major two-part exhibition illustrates an
important moment of cultural exchange and explores how Kapoor’s visual language
can create shared experiences globally.
Installation view of Anish Kapoor, Symphony for a Beloved Sun (2013) at CAFA Art Museum, Beijing © Anish Kapoor, Courtesy CAFA
At the CAFA Art Museum, Kapoor will weave his monumental installations through the contemporary curvilinear exhibition spaces, presenting four performative artworks central to his recent practice. Symphony for a Beloved Sun (2013) will first greet visitors, transforming the central atrium of the museum into a landscape activated by a machine calmly processing masses of aggregating material. Previously exhibited at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2013) the work deposits bricks of red wax along several ascending conveyor belts, before dramatically plummeting into a molten heap of their own making. This system – watched over by a vast, red sun that hovers above the scene – takes place with no evident human interaction; the artist’s hand is replaced by a seemingly autonomous, invisible machine that allows the viewer an opportunity to commune directly with the mysterious entity, giving rise to a subjective, poignant experience.
Installation view of Anish Kapoor, Sectional Body preparing for Monadic Singularity (2015) at CAFA Art Museum, Beijing © Anish Kapoor, Courtesy CAFA
The second floor of the museum will house Kapoor’s Sectional Body preparing for Monadic Singularity (2015), initially created for the artist’s 2015 solo exhibition at the Château de Versailles, France. This ambitious construction explores the relationship between the interior and exterior, not only of the work, but of the body and the space itself. As well as experiencing its mesmerising biomorphic form, Kapoor invites the viewer inside the structure through an inconspicuous door, opening into a network of glowing red orifices, intravenously connected, conjuring powerful metaphors about the body, existence and spirituality. Alongside this on the second floor, an entire corner of the museum will be reconfigured into an industrial landscape entitled Destierro (2017), denoting ‘exile’ in Spanish. Only once exhibited before, at Argentina’s Parque de la Memoria, Destierro encompasses hundreds of tons of earth sprayed with red pigment contrasted by a solitary, ultramarine-blue digger, battling against the tides of detritus.
Installation view of Anish Kapoor, Destierro (2017) at CAFA Art Museum, Beijing © Anish Kapoor, Courtesy CAFA
On the third floor of the museum, Kapoor will
present My Red Homeland (2003),
another large-scale, self-generating installation. Here, a metal blade is
mechanically driven around an open circular container filled with 25 tons of
molten red wax. Over the course of an hour the blade slowly orbits the deep-red
matter, appearing as if to churn, form and reform the wax.
Alongside these large-scale installations at
CAFA Art Museum, Kapoor will present a display of architectural scale models
from his practice over the past few decades, including models for the
significant publicly-realized projects, Cloud
Gate (2004), Orbit (2010), Southbank Centre (2001), Subway Station, Monte San Angelo, Naples (1999-2002)
and Leonard Street Model (2009).
Installation view of Anish Kapoor, My Red Homeland (2003) at CAFA Art Museum, Beijing © Anish Kapoor, Courtesy Lisson Gallery
The exhibition will continue across Beijing at
the Taimiao Art Museum of Imperial Ancestral Temple, the largest ancient
palatial structure in the world. Kapoor will address the architecture and
spiritual history of the site, reflecting and engaging with the spaces through
a series of stainless steel and pigment sculptures. The 600-year-old Temple
sits within the Imperial City and just outside the walls of The Forbidden City.
The central atrium of the building will present two of Kapoor’s mirrored steel
works S-Curve (2006) and C-Curve (2007), which morph from concave
to convex, bending and twisting their surroundings, turning the world upside
down before restoring order and revealing a clear reflection of the visitors.
Viewpoints are further shifted by a curated selection of Kapoor’s reflective
stainless steel sculptures, including Stave
(2013), Non-Object (Spire) (2008)
and Non-Object (Door) (2008). Rather
than simply reversing or mirroring their subjects, these works challenge
viewers’ perceptions by absorbing or dissolving figurative imagery and the
fabric of the building entirely, simultaneously denying bodily presence while
suggesting an all-enveloping connection with the environment and each other.
Installation view of Anish Kapoor, Non-Object (Spire) (2008) at the Imperial Ancestral Temple, Beijing © Anish Kapoor, Courtesy Imperial Ancestral Temple
Kapoor’s use of raw paint pigment – a material
formed of pure colour that soaks up light and refutes the surface scrutiny
allowed by his polished surfaces –was the foundation for a seminal series of
pigment sculptures that will inhabit the two galleries flanking the central
Temple. Indeed, the artist’s early rise to prominence stems from his innovative
early pigment series 1000 Names, made
between 1979-1982. The title refers to the 1000 names as an infinite series
alluding to the metamorphic ability of colour to have material presence and
illusory resonance. Alongside key works from this series will be the next
generation of Kapoor’s pigmented sculptures, including the blue field of Angel (1990), and the multipartite,
multicoloured To reflect an intimate part
of the red (1981), emerging from the wall and floor, rendered in intense,
alluring colours that deceive the eye through their forms and protrusions.
Installation view of Anish Kapoor, C-Curve (2007) at the Imperial Ancestral Temple, Beijing © Anish Kapoor, Courtesy Imperial Ancestral Temple
Anish Kapoor, artist, commented:
I am honoured to be making these two exhibitions in Beijing both in the context of CAFA and the temples of the Forbidden City. I have planned exhibitions that reach across my work of the last thirty-five years.
Fan Di’an, President of
China Artists Association and the Central Acedmy of Fine Arts, commented:
As one of the world’s most prolific and respected contemporary artists, Anish Kapoor is a perfect example of combining ancient and modern, eastern and western. His artwork is rooted in ancient Indian philosophy and thought, fused with the spiritual core of Buddhism and Daoism from the East and artistic concepts and psychoanalysis from the West. In the contemporary transformation of ancient civilizations, he activates mysterious and powerful resonant forces. In Kapoor’s work, color is baptism and belief, space is intelligence and soul, and material is substance and spirit; through visual uncertainty, he constructs a boundary of the ethereal and great void, leading viewers into a dialogue that transcends nature and perception, and this dialogue is what Chinese audiences should truly contemplate and explore.
Zhang Zikang, Director
of CAFA Art Museum, and Chief Curator, commented:
Anish Kapoor is an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist. His work is compelling and will radiate across these sites in Beijing, connecting well with Chinese audiences. Kapoor is an Indian born artist whose work resonates across continents and nationalities, it presents a language of sculpture that is beyond any specific cultural or ideological values. His unique works presented in this exhibition will open a rich dialogue with the Chinese audience. Just like the old Chinese saying, “the other mountain’s stone can polish jade”, I believe this exhibition will provide a profound example of how to transform the rich traditional intellectual resources of China into a contemporary form for today.
This exhibition is hosted by Central Academy of Fine Arts and Beijing Municipal Federation Trade Unions and co-organised by CAFA Art Museum and Taimiao Art Museum. The Bejing Zonhom Arts and Cultural Development Co. Ltd is the lead supporter, alongside Lisson Gallery, Galleria Continua and the British Council.
Further information can be found at anishkapoorbeijing.com
Main image: Anish Kapoor, Stave (2013), Stainless steel, 368 x 218 x 100 cm, 144 7/8 x 85 7/8 x 39 3/8 in © Anish Kapoor; all rights reserved 2019. Courtesy the artist, Lisson Gallery and Galleria Continua.