Anish Kapoor’s current exhibition in the Gladstone Gallery’s 24th street Chelsea location (May 4 – June 11, 2016) provoked me in a way that art never before has.
This show departed from Kapoor’s past work of shiny sculptures and reflective forms. Instead he created more bodily pieces, though they maintain his usual scale. The huge silicone sculptures threaten to consume you as you step into the gallery space. They are reminiscent of mangled, massacred flesh, though also somehow seem womb-like. Surrounded, you are faced with violence, and your body is suddenly inside another. It is disgusting and intriguing all at once.
The sculptures maintain a certain tension in their relationship to viewers. They at once invite you to explore their materiality in more detail, and loom threateningly – daring you to step up and examine their solid yet squishy forms.
When I first walked in to the gallery space I was overwhelmed. My instinct was wrap myself up, to shield my own intact torso with my arms. I was in a butcher shop or I was a fetus or I was a witness and inside and outside all bled together in a space that felt smaller because I hesitated to close the distance between myself and the art. I was caught off guard. I was unsure. I was engaged.
And I continued to be engaged even as I stepped outside to the gallery after seeing the entire show, when I had to shake out my arms and hands to absorb and recover from the experience of the art. The art stayed with me.
So while I can’t say that it was my favorite of Kapoor’s work, I will say without hesitation that the show was absolutely a success.